Sainte-Anne de Beaupré is a tiny town on the shores of the St. Lawrence River, 20 miles above Quebec City in Canada. The village is home to (and named for) the Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, a major Catholic shrine and place of healing that attracts more than a million pilgrims per year.
History of Sainte-Anne-De-Beaupréshrine
The first chapel was built on this site by early settlers in 1658 to house a miraculous statue of St. Anne. By 1688 it had become a site of local pilgrimage, and by 1707, Native Americans (who in Canada are called the First Nations) were coming to venerate the saint they called "Grandmother in the Faith."
The first miracle attributed to the intercession of St. Anne at Beaupré was the cure of a crippled workman in 1658. This was soon followed by the deliverance of a group of sailors from a storm.
Miracles and healings continued to be attributed to the miraculous statue over the centuries to the present day. The ex-voto chapel in the basilica is stacked with crutches, canes and folded wheelchairs no longer needed, as well as paintings of deliverance and healing.
A second church of St. Anne was constructed of wood and stone between 1661 and 1676. It was located on the present site of the old cemetery. A third church was built of stone in 1676, and remained in use until it was replaced by a basilica in 1876. The old church was demolished in 1878, but the Memorial Chapel was constructed on the foundations of its transept.
In 1876, Saint Anne was proclaimed the patron saint of Québec. The same year, the first Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, much larger than the previous church, was opened for worship. When a relic of St. Anne was sent to Beaupré by the pope in 1892, it stopped in New York, where an epileptic was cured on its first appearance. Great excitement followed, and American pilgrimages to Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré in Canada increased tremendously from that point on.
The first basilica was tragically destroyed by fire on March 29, 1922. It was replaced by the present basilica, which was completed in 1926. Cardinal Maurice Roy consecrated the basilica on July 4, 1976, and Pope John Paul II visited the shrine on September 10, 1984.
What to See at Sainte-Anne-De-Beaupréshrine
Though dating from 1926, the present basilica contains a number of 18th-century sculptures and artworks. The interior is a feast for the eyes, filled with delightful details.
The 240 stained glass windows were created using a new technique that suffuses the light beautifully. The ceiling and sides of the church are covered in mosaics of the life of St. Anne, the saints of Canada, 88 scenes from the life of Jesus, and figurative and geometrical designs. The ends of the wooden pews tell the story of Creation with carved figures of animals and plants.
But the focus of pilgrims to Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré is not the architecture, but the miraculous statue of St. Anne. Carved from a massive single piece of oak, it is painted colorfully and wears a gold crown with diamonds, rubies and pearls. Anne is shown carrying her child, the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The basilica has two levels. The upper level is the main nave; the lower level contains the Immaculate Conception Chapel, featuring a large statue of Mary, and the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, where Mass is conducted.
Also on the bottom level is the tomb of Venerable Father Alfred Pampalon (1867-1896), a Redemptorist priest who was declared Venerable by Pope John Paul II on May 14, 1991. He is especially called upon by those with alcohol and drug dependencies.
Also on site is the modern and well-laid-out Sainte Anne Museum, which traces the history of devotion to St. Anne with displays of artifacts, a selection of ex-votos and explanatory exhibits.
The basilica is the centerpiece of a large shrine complex, which includes several more chapels, a holy well, a lifesize set of the Stations of the Cross, and a replica of the Scala Santa (Holy Stairs) in Rome.
St. Anne is the mother of the Virgin Mary and the grandmother of Jesus. Mary's parents are not named in the Bible, but a very ancient tradition gives their names as Anne and Joachim. St. Anne first appeared in Christian writings around the year 150 AD, when her cult first took root in the Middle East. Devotion to St. Anne developed in the West after the 8th century and was very popular in France at the time of the settlement of Quebec.
The largest pilgrimages to Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré come for the feast of St. Anne (July 26) and the Sunday closest to the feast of the Nativity of Mary (September 8). The First Nations pilgrimage is still held each June, as it has been since the 1700s.
Throughout the year, prayer and worship services at the basilica take place almost continually. Each day sees an average of eight Masses plus a public Rosary, Way of the Cross, blessing of the sick with a relic of St. Anne, and a candlelight procession. The shrine maintains a pilgrim hostel (the Basilica Inn) and facilities for the sick and handicapped. Souvenirs and gifts are available at the Church Store.
Quick Facts on Sainte-Anne-De-Beaupréshrine
|Names:||Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré · Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré Shrine · Sainte-Anne-De-Beaupréshrine · Sanctuaire Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré · Shrine|
|Styles:||Gothic Revival style; Romanesque Revival|
|Visitor and Contact Information|
|Coordinates:||47.024146° N, 70.928271° W|
Sainte-Anne de Beaupré, Canada
|Lodging:||View hotels near Sainte-Anne-De-Beaupréshrine|
- Norbert C. Brockman, Encyclopedia of Sacred Places (Oxford UP, 1997), 247-48.
- Sanctuaire Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré - official website of the Shrine of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre
- Lucien Gagné and Jean-Pierre Asselin, St. Anne de Beaupré (1984).
- Francis Parkinson Keyes, St. Anne, Grandmother of Our Savior (1955).
- Eugene Lefebvre, St. Anne's Pilgrim People (1981).
- Photos of Sainte-Anne-De-Beaupréshrine - here on Sacred Destinations
Map of Sainte-Anne-De-Beaupréshrine, Sainte-Anne de Beaupré
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