At the village of Arles-sur-Tech, in the Valley of Vallespir, France, close to the border with Spain, lies the abbey of Ste Marie, founded by Charlemagne in AD 778.  In it is a mysterious sarcophagus bearing the Christian Chi-Rho cipher but no other identification.  According to local tradition, for the last thousand years, the ancient stone container has issued a pure, fresh water credited with healing properties.  It is estimated that 80-150 gallons are siphoned off each year and bottled for pilgrims.  In 1794, the lid was pried off and the interior cleaned out but within a month it was full of clear water.  The sarcophagus was drained and lifted and searched for pipes, or, as had been supposed, a hidden mountain spring, but there was not findable source.  Careful watches have been kept and no one is refilling the tomb.  Analysis of the water found that it is of a different composition to local spring water and cannot be accounted for by condensation.  The practical abbey and town officials decided to make the most of their good luck and tend it continuously as an historical attraction.

Advertisements