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To That Shrine Most Holy: A Photographic Tour of Ste. Anne de Beaupré Shrine, Pt. 2
A brief photographic tour of one of the most beloved shrines in North America, part 2
Please check out the first part of Chantal LaFortune’s article which could not be emailed due to the length of the article.
In honour of Pope Francis’ visit to Canada at the end of July, in which he visited the shrine of Ste. Anne de Beaupré in Quebec, I have put together a brief photographic tour of the basilica. In Part I, we explored the history, Romanesque architecture, and the sanctuary of the shrine; today, we shall continue our tour by looking first at the transept.
A transept is a horizontal area near the front of a church that makes the building take the shape of a cross; the transept forms the arms of the cross. On the right side of the transept in Ste. Anne de Beaupré is a side chapel dedicated to the Holy Family.
When groups of pilgrims from various parishes or places visit the shrine, they have their own banner that they use in the candlelight processions during the summer. Around St. Anne’s feast day on July 26, this Holy Family chapel is filled to bursting with these banners, which then even line the walls of this side of the transept.
The left side of the transept is the most popular attraction in the entire basilica for two reasons. The first reason that visitors immediately notice is the huge Miraculous Statue situated in the middle of the transept.
The statue, made of polychrome wood, was sculpted in 1927. Thousands of pilgrims kneel around it each year, imploring the intercession of St. Anne for their needs. The statue is called miraculous because of the great number of miracles that have resulted through St. Anne’s intercession at this shrine.
Behind the Miraculous Statue lies the shrine’s most precious treasure: a four-inch-long relic of St. Anne’s forearm. It was originally enshrined at St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome and was donated to the Quebec basilica in 1892. It is a beautiful connection with the grandmother of Our Lord, and there are always people praying in front of the relic, imploring her kindly intercession for their needs.
In the summer, and especially during the nine-day novena leading up to St. Anne’s feast day on July 26, the shrine offers nightly candlelight processions. Holding lighted candles, the faithful process around the courtyard outside the basilica, or around the inside of the basilica in the event of rain. On the feast of St. Anne, the procession winds up the hill across the street from the basilica containing life-size Stations of the Cross. Cantors lead hymns in honour of St. Anne, and a priest offers a prayer after each hymn. At the back of the procession is a priest carrying a Monstrance containing the Most Blessed Sacrament. When the procession returns to the church, the pilgrims fill the pews and sing a beautiful arrangement of the Magnificat before the Blessed Sacrament, holding their candles high.
Earlier in this article, I mentioned the crypt chapel in the basilica. It is dedicated to the Immaculate Conception, which contains a beautiful symbolism: just as the Immaculate Conception chapel is located deep inside the Basilica of St. Anne, so too was Mary housed in the womb of St. Anne for nine months.
The chapel is painted blue with intricate mosaic motifs on the pillars and ceiling. Along the walls are beautiful frescoes depicting biblical figures and saints. Not all of the spaces have been painted yet, and new paintings appear periodically in the vacant spaces around the large chapel.
Outside the basilica, behind the memorial chapel across the street, which we saw yesterday, are the life-sized Stations of the Cross. The life-sized bronze figures were made in France between 1913 and 1945. Situated on a hill, pilgrims get a very real sense of what Christ’s ascent to Calvary was like as they prayerfully walk along the winding path up the hill toward the Crucifixion.
At the far end of the Stations of the Cross is another chapel with an exact replica of the Scala Santa of Rome. According to tradition, Christ climbed the Holy Stairs in Rome leading into Pilate’s praetorium during His Passion. The chapel at Ste. Anne de Beaupré is the first such replica in America, built in 1891. Pilgrims ascend each wooden step prayerfully on their knees, meditating on Christ’s Passion as they do so. In each step is located a relic from the Holy Land.
I hope this brief photographic tour of Ste. Anne de Beaupré has helped to give you all a glimpse into the beauty and splendor of this shrine in honour of Pope Francis’ upcoming visit. There is much that I could not include for purposes of space; the art and beauty of the shrine and its nearby chapels and grounds is impossible to do justice in an article. I hope that many of you may someday get the opportunity to visit Ste. Anne de Beaupré for yourselves; it is a truly magnificent and sacred place, where our God feels very near through the loving protection of His grandmother, Good St. Anne.
O Good Ste. Anne, mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary, you who are so powerful in Heaven, heal us of all our bodily ills and pray for our souls’ salvation. Good Ste. Anne, pray for us. Amen.
The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. “Romanesque Architecture.” Encyclopedia Britannica, April 9, 2020. https://www.britannica.com/art/Romanesque-architecture.
“History of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, Québec, Canada.” Greener Pasture. https://greenerpasture.com/Places/Details/47.
Leclerc, Clément. “Sainte Anne de Beaupré.” The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 1. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. July 5, 2022. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01539b.htm.
Pierre-Deschênes, Claudine. “Ste-Anne-de-Beaupré.” The Canadian Encyclopedia, February 7, 2006. https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/ste-anne-de-beaupre.
“Sanctuaire Sainte-Anne de Beaupré.” Various articles. https://sanctuairesainteanne.org/en/.
“The Two Miraculous Statues of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré.” Histoire Sainte du Canada. http://histoiresainteducanada.ca/en/the-two-miraculous-statues-of-sainte-anne-de-beaupre/.