Who Is St. Sarah?

St. Sarah is traditionally identified with the Sarah of the Hebrew scriptures, the wife of Abraham, as described in the Book of Genesis. A second “St. Sarah” is identified in the medieval legend that has Mary Jacobe, Mary Salome, and Mary Magdalene arriving in southern France after the crucifixion of Christ accompanied by a black Egyptian servant named Sarah.

The Sarah of the Hebrew scriptures is often referred to as the “laughing saint.” Genesis tells us that Abraham was 99 years old when God made a covenant with him. God promised Abraham land and numerous progeny. When Abraham’s wife Sarah was told that she was to bear a child in her old age, scripture says that “she laughed.” Sarah did give birth to a son, Isaac, whose name means “laughter.” Melissa Musick at The Catholic Catalogue states, “Sarah believed in God’s promises and rejoiced in them, but she also got the joke.”

Every year gypsies and others gather in the small village of Saintes Marie de la Mer on the Mediterranean Sea in the South of France in honor of St. Sarah, patron saint of the gypsies. Legend has it that Sarah was an Egyptian servant girl who came to southern France in the year 42 A.D, accompanying Mary Magdalene, Mary Jacobe and Mary Salome, all followers and disciples of Christ.

Another version of the legend, told by the Gypsies of France, describes Sarah as a Gypsy. After a vision of the coming of the ship carrying the three Marys, Sarah waded out into the sea and saved them when their boat capsized in a violent storm. She was later converted to Christianity.