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Arles-sur-Tech Holy Tomb


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Arles-sur-Tech is a small town at the feet of Canigou Mountain in the Pyrenees-Orientales department of southwest France.
The town's Benedictine Sainte-Marie Abbey was founded by Charlemagne in the late 8th century after he chased away the Moors to the other side of the Pyrenean Mountains - in nowadays Spain. It is one of the oldest abbeys of Catalonia and one of the most important in the medieval times.
In the 11th century the abbey was reconstructed and stone vaults were added in the 12th century.
The abbey is a beautiful example of the artistic style changes over the centuries including pre-Romanesque, Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque elements.
But what brought an international fame to the Sainte-Marie Abbey and indeed to this little town is a marble carved early Christian 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 that 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 but the holy water can be obtained on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 10:00am to 12:00pm.

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Address:Arles-sur-Tech, Pyrénées Orientales
Web Site:
Visiting Hours:From July 1st to August 31st from Monday to Saturday from 9am to 7pm. Sunday from 2pm to 5pm.
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.


Added by: Marie Wilson Added on: 15 Nov 2016

How can I get a bottle of Holy water from the Ancient Scarcophagus

Added by: Dianne Sturm Added on: 11 Mar 2017

Can this water be purchased by mail? I am very ill and I need healing.

Added by: Carla Added on: 13 Mar 2017

Regarding the Holy Water of the Arles-sur-Tech Holy Tomb it can only be obtained on the 30th of July when they give it away to the participants of the "La Rondelle" celebration.


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