Arles-sur-Tech Holy Tomb
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Arles-sur-Tech is a small town at the feet of Canigou Mountain in the eastern Pyrenees region or more precisely the "Pyrenees Orientales" department of southwest France.
The town's Benedictine Sainte-Marie abbey was founded by Charlemagne in the beginning of the 9th century after he chased away the Moors to the other side of the Pyrenean Mountains - in nowadays Spain.
The priory is famous for its gothic style cloister and the church's remarkable 12th century frescos.
But what brought an international fame to the Sainte-Marie abbey and indeed to this little town is a marble carved paleochristian sarcophagus, dating from the 4th or 5th century AD, known by the name of the "Holy Tomb of Arles-sur-Tech".
The sarcophagus, situated near the entrance of the church, is more precisely positioned some 1/2 of an inch away from the church's wall, elevated from the ground on twin pedestals, each 8 inches high, and covered with a 1 foot thick prism shaped lid. One would say that it is the unlikeliest source of a spring ever, yet it produces up to 300 liters of clear - some say unalterable and with curative properties - water per year.
According to the legend, during the 10th century, a monk called Arnulphe brought from Rome the holy relics of two saints Abdon and Sennen and put them into this sarcophagus in order to protect Arles-sur-Tech town from wild beasts and who were terrorizing the population. It is after the relics were placed there that the miraculous water started to flow.
The oldest document attesting this phenomenon dates from 1591.
And then there is the 13th century testimonial of the miraculous healing by the "Holy tomb" water of a certain William of Gaucelme, Lord of Tellet, who was suffering from a nose disease. His tomb stone - he died in 1211 - is embedded in the wall of the church, above the sarcophagus. It represents William WITHOUT a nose but with a cross adorning the top of his head.
Also on April 3, 1942 ten people signed a statement saying "the sarcophagus is full, the liquid overflows, a large drop falls every two minutes in front of the tomb."
The miracle of the 'Holy tomb' water was never explained satisfactory. There are versions of a porous lid that allows the rain water and condensation to penetrate the sarcophagus but apparently the quantity of water that flows from the tomb is greater and cannot be reasonably explained this way.
Nowadays the sarcophagus cannot be touched by visitors and the holy water can only be obtained during the fest day of "La Rondelle" on the 30th of July.
The rest of the year from Monday to Saturday from 9am to 12pm and from 2pm to 6pm. Sunday from 2pm to 5pm.
Closed on Sunday from November to March.
How can I get a bottle of Holy water from the Ancient Scarcophagus