Pope  and martyr



Our Saint went through unbelievable sufferings in his fight for the defence and the propagation of the Christian faith. Emperor Valerian declared to the Senate that he wanted all the bishops, priests and ministers of the Church to be apprehended and to endure all sorts of torture until death. Sixte was arrested as head of the Christians, presented to the judges and accused of having held secret meetings. He confessed that he spared no effort to establish the religion of the true God and to destroy the superstitions of idolatry. He protested that he would gladly die for such a just and holy cause. He was taken to the Temple of Mars and forced to sacrifice to this false divinity. He absolutely refused to commit this blasphemy. Thus, after a short stay in prison, and while celebrating the holy mystery in the Callixte cemetery, the soldiers took hold of him and led him outside of town where his torturers beheaded him. (August 6, 258)



Saint Sixte had been Pope for about two years from the consulate of Maxime and Glabrion to that of d’AEmilanius et Bassus (258). With his execution, he preceded many glorious martyrs that were to increase throughout the Roman world as a result of Valerian’s edicts. The names of many of the martyrs that followed Sixte were never recorded by history. Laurent, Archdeacon to the Pope, followed Sixte to his execution crying “Where are you going Holy Father without your deacon?”  Sixte replied, “I am not the one leaving you my son, a bigger fight awaits you.Within three days, you will follow me”.



A prayer to saint Sixte


You have given Lord

to the blessed saint Sixte

and his companions

 the grace to sacrifice their life to stay faithful to your  word and bear witness to

Jesus Christ.


Grant us the strength of

the Holy Spirit

in order for our hearts

to believe and resolve to profess the faith


In the name of the Father, and the Son

and the Holy Spirit




This prophesy was to be fulfilled as Sixte predicted.

As stated by the Roman martyrology, many of the Pope’s companions had to endure the same fate, and were executed alongside him on the same day, including the Deacons Saint Felicissime and Saint Agapit; and the sub Deacons Saint Janvier, Saint Magne, and Saint Etienne; as well as Saint Quart. According to the writings of Saint Prudence, the poet, Saint Sixte was executed, tied to a cross. His body was buried in the Callixte cemetery on the via Appia, where he had been executed.


All martyrologies after Saint Cyprien, Saint Augustin, Saint Maxime, Saint Pierre Chrysologue and many others, speak of Saint Sixte with the greatest respect. Amongst the praises given to Sixte II in ancient times, one particularly notices that of a gentle and peaceful Pope.


Saint Sixte is represented with a sword on his side to remind us that he was beheaded.



Saint Sixte annual procession starts from Eygalières Saint Sixte bust



Saint Laurent


Saint Laurent is the patron Saint of Eygalieres. As predicted by Saint Sixte, he was put to death three days after the Pope, but not before he had donated all the alms money to widows and orphans. He died, tortured on a red hot grill. Saint Laurent is represented with a grill by his side. Both statues can be seen in the village church of Saint Laurent. Until the French Revolution, the coat of arms of Eygalieres was: “Silver with a black grill, handle down”. The grill recalls Saint Laurent’s martyrdom. The present coat of arms which represents an eagle’s nest with the eaglets Aquilarum Rupes (Rocher des Aigles) dates from the 19th century.



In July and August, the chapel may be freely visited on sundays from 15 to 19 pm.



Saint-Sixte remains one of the most attractive rural chapels in Provence. Erected on a rocky mount at the XII century, it appears to watch over a beautiful Alpilles landscape, heart of the holy triangle of Provence.


Like most of the rural chapels, it replaced an antique sanctuary – a spring gushes out closeby. It was divinised thousands of years ago by Neolithic shepherds who worshipped Sylvanus and water, mirror of the sky.


The oldest part is the apse with its half dome built in medium sized stones. It is separated from the nave by a triumphal arch resting on two consoles representing the head of the apocalyptic boar.


The nave is divided into three cradle-vaulted bays.


The steeple made of a plain arcade wall rises above the façade.


In  1629, at the time of the plague, a cradle-vaulted peristyle –or stabulum- was added. It was used as a watch post for the chapel which had been turned into a plague hospital (quarantine).

Outside on the north face, the chapel is supported by two thick buttresses.


In the XVI century, a small hermitage was built on the south side, with two rooms for the hermit and a small walled garden.


The Saint-Sixte chapel together with the Saint-Laurent church of  Eygalières (ecclesiam sancti Laurenti de Aqualeria) were already mentioned in a bull of Pope Adrian IV in 1155, as part of the bishopric of the Abbey of Mollégès which had just been founded by Sacristance des Porcellets, the first abbess of the devoted monastery. The official ceremony took place in Eygalières in April 1222, one could see Monseigneur Guillaume de Monteil and the nuns walking along the road that led from the church to the antique sanctuary.


From this date, a pilgrimage has been taking place in Eygalières every Tuesday after Easter. On that day, the bust of Pope Saint Sixte, made of gilded wood, carried by for priors of the brotherhood of Saint-Sixte, leaves the parish church followed by the population, the Camarguegardians’ and young girls dressed in the Arlesian  traditional costume riding behind. The procession , banners first, then proceeds toward the chapel which is 1500m distant from the village.


Mass is said outside the chapel in the Provencal language. For centuries, the villagers have been coming to this pilgrimage, asking for rain on years of great drought. This is a survival of a pagan worship dedicated to the springs which Christianity has managed to eradicate.


The font, now disappeared, was a pagan style bearing on one side an inscription dedicated to the healing waters. Recently a paleochristian stele was found in the walls of the hermitage.


This water district was inhabited in the roman era and the VIth legion which had just founded Arles decided to capture the water from the springs to feed Arles and the Constantine Baths. It was the origin of the Arles aqueduct, a superhuman work from the ‘Roman Builder’ still surrounded by the magic of the legend.


Derived from « Eygalières en Provence » written by Maurice Pezet with the agreement of Mme Pezet and the ’Association du Vieil Eygalières