This fascinating French, silver plated medal from the mid century tells an interesting story.
According to various legends, during a persecution of early Christians, commonly placed in the year 42, Lazarus, his sisters Mary and Martha, Mary Salome (the mother of the Apostles John and James), Mary Jacobe and Maximin were sent out to sea in a boat. They arrived safely on the southern shore of Gaul at the place later called Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. In some accounts Sarah, a native of Upper Egypt, appears as the black Egyptian maid of one of the Three Marys.
Though the tradition of the Three Marys arriving in France stems from the high Middle Ages, Saint Sarah makes her first appearance in Vincent Philippon's book The Legend of the Saintes-Maries (1521), where she is portrayed as "a charitable woman that helped people by collecting alms, which led to the popular belief that she was a Gypsy." Subsequently, Sarah was adopted by Romani as their saint.
The medal measures 1 and 3/16” (3cms) across and weighs 13.7 grams.
On the front we see the three Marys with their boat and an angel with an oar. Around the top are the words ‘Saintes Maries de la Mer PPN’ – Saint Marys of the Sea Pray for us. Beneath this is the engraver’s name ‘Coutre’. The edge appears gilded which may well be the brass underneath.
At the top is a squared off ring and a bail.
On the reverse is an image of Sarah. Her face does look Egyptian. Around the edge is ‘Sainte Sarah Priez Pour Nous’- St Sarah Pray for us.
This interesting medal is in good vintage condition and will arrive in a gift box.
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