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Abbatiale Sainte Marie (Quarante)

- 34310 Quarante

The abbey-church Sainte Marie is one of the finest examples of the Languedocian roman period.

Please remember to bring a coin of 2 € to switch on the lights :  besides the treasure, you may also find a sarcophagus dating from the 3rd Century IIIè, the white marble-made altars from the school of Narbonne and the adjacent museum opened during the summer season.

The impressive abbey church Sainte-Marie established during the 10th Century contains a treasure whose centerpieces are a sarcophagus from the 3rd Century, and an element of 15th goldsmithery. The latter features the head of Saint Jean Baptiste, holy patron who is protecting the village of Quarante.

The reliquary bust is hollow and made of hammered and cut silver plates, enhanced by silver-gilt nuances for the hair and the beard. The bust was designed by a sculptor from Montpellier : Jacques Morel who shaped it in 1443.

Saint Jean Baptiste Saint is shown with shoulders covered with sheepskin. From the front, the Saint's face seems sore and tortured. From the sides, he looks quiet and peaceful. Long hair and a curly beard frames his face.

This treasure is exposed every year for the Saint Jean's day. On this occasion, a mass is celebrated, followed by a procession before ending by The Fire of the Saint Jean.

A legend is adjacent to this tradition since the bust is endowed with prophylactic and healing properties for headaches. Thus, during the procession it is usual to see people covering their face with Saint Jean Baptiste's bust.

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