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St. Martha's Day (Fête de la Tarasque) Options
Posted: Sunday, June 26, 2016 12:00:00 AM
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St. Martha's Day (Fête de la Tarasque)

Martha, the sister of Mary and Lazarus, is best known for her role in Jesus' visit to their house in Bethany. Martha's second legendary claim to fame is that she killed a dragon who was ravaging the Provençal countryside, in what is now known as Tarasçon in Provence, France. Every year on the last weekend in June, a procession takes place there that commemorates St. Martha's power. In the first procession, eight men walk next to the dragon's spiked body, which snaps at the crowd of spectators. In the second procession, the dragon trots along behind a young girl representing St. Martha. More...
Posted: Sunday, June 26, 2016 2:18:57 PM

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Martha's second legendary claim to fame is that she killed a dragon who was ravaging the Provençal countryside

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Posted: Sunday, June 26, 2016 2:34:58 PM

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Subdued a dragon using only holy water?

Pull the other one, it has bells on it. Not talking
Posted: Sunday, June 26, 2016 3:29:03 PM

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Tarasque Legend

A swampy area of the Rhone, roughly where Tarascon is now, was once called niger focus, or "heart of darkness". A later reference called it id est niger locus, or Nerluc. When the Romans arrived, they called the small collection of habitations here Ernaginum, probably from the habitants' ur-naga, reflecting the worship of a primeval serpent or dragon.

A huge monster emerged from the sea and chose the river Rhone as its new home. The legend of this ancient creature, as described in 12th-century writings, was of a half-serpent half-lion monster from Gallicia, the ofspring of the ancient-world serpents Leviathan and Onacho. tells us it was a "dragoness, half land mammal, half fish. She outsized twelve elephants, had teeth like swords and a skin like iron. Her father was the water dragon Leviathan, her mother the giant snake Onachus, and her name was Tarasque".
Wikipeda says the Tarasque was "a sort of dragon with six short legs like a bear's, an ox-like body covered with a turtle shell, and a scaly tail that ended in a scorpion's sting. It had a lion's head, horse's ears, and the face of a bitter old man". A variation says his head is that of a lion, yet with a horse's ears, but his face, with eyebrows and mustache, is that of a sad and bitter old man.

Whatever its actual appearance, the Tarasque terrorized the region in the best traditions of unfriendly dragons. She breathed flames, destroyed houses, frightened the animals and people alike. The dragon destroyed the bridges and then devoured anyone who tried to cross.

Local heros, including the King of Nerluc and knights, fought the Tarasque, and perished. Others tied animals along a trail into a deep swamp, near Avignon, with a reputation for being impossible to escape from. But the swamp belonged to the realm of the devil and the Tarasque was a creature of the devil. So when the Tarasque followed the trail of delicious animals into the swamp, it was warned in time to escape the trap.

Along Came Martha

Martha (Saint Martha of Bethany) was born sometime in the 1st century to a Syrian duke named Syro and his wife, Encharia of Magdalene, in Bethany, near Jerusalem. As a girl Martha lived with her brother, Lazarus and her sister, Mary Magdalene. Their friend Jesus was a frequent visitor in their home.

Following the crucifixion of their friend, a group including the siblings Martha, Lazarus and Mary Magdalenem, along with Mary Jacobe, Mary Salome, St Maximinus and Cedonius, were cast adrift in a small boat without sails, oars or supplies. They eventually landed safely at Marseille where they split up and went their own ways. Martha of Bethany went either to Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer or Aix-en-Provence, and became a missionary, regarded for her gracious manner.

Martha was in Nerluc one market day, to spread the word of her Christian God to the pagan people, where everyone was talking about the dragon. The townspeople chalanged her to prove the strength of her religion by subduing the dragon. Martha set out, bare-foot, in her white dress, to find the dragon, with no other weapon than a jar of holy water, and with the whole town following her. At the dragon's lair, Martha held up two sticks as a cross and stopped the dragon as if pierced by a sword. (It's also said she used hymns and prayers to charm the beast.) She sprinkled holy water on the dragon to quench its fire, then used his sharp tooth to cut off her braids and make a bridle to lead the now-tamed Tarasque back to town.

The people, still terrified by the monster, attacked it and killed it with a shower of stones. Martha forgave the wretched town's peope, and converted many of them to Christianity. One source has it that Martha's feat with the dragon caused the entire province to converted to Christianity. The citizens errected a new church in honor of Saint Martha and changed the name of the town from Nerluc to Tarascon. The Tarasque is now featured on the town's coat of arms.

Interestingly, the only monster known in Tarascon is the Tarasque, while on the opposite bank of the Rhone, the only monster known in Beaucaire is the Drac.
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