Saint Anne de Beaupré
My travels to Quebec started in Hamilton, Ontario early on a Monday morning and I arrived that evening in one of Canada's Catholic Shrines - St. Anne de Beaupré, just 30 miles east of Quebec city. The main reason for my trip from Ireland was to visit Grosse-Île, the final resting place of over 6,000 Irish souls who had fled Ireland in the famine years of 1845-1849.
weather was beautiful and the drive along the northern shore of the St.
Lawrence River passed the Montmorency Falls in the Parc de la Chute, Montmorency.
The waterfall is 83 metres high, one-and-a-half times higher than Niagara
Falls. In winter the water freezes and the falls become like a huge ice-cream
As the colours were just beginning to change this was a beautiful sight, but not as much as was to occur three weeks after my departure for home.
Canada is famous for the rich tapestry of colours in the Autumn and the first small frost brings about changes of such magnificence it takes the breath away - golds, reds, browns, rusts and evergreens.
I left my camera with a friend who obliged and took some photos for me of the beauty of a Canadian Fall.
I had hoped to be able to sail to Grosse-Ile the day after my arrival but bad weather cancelled all sailings. So my first morning in this beautiful Canadian province was spent visiting one of Canada's most famous Catholic Shrines and places of pilgrimage - The Basilica of St. Anne de Beaupré. St Anne was mother of Mary and grand mother of Jesus and, following the Council of Ephesus in 431 AD which acknowledged Mary's Motherhood, devotion to St. Anne started in Jerusalem.In the 8th. century devotion to the Saint spread to Rome but it was thought to be another 400 years before it came to France. It reached its peak in France in the 1600's and from there was brought to New France - Canada, by those who traveled to the New World. Here's a link to a lovely page about Saint Anne.
In 1657 the Jesuits Fathers dedicated one of the chapels in Quebec to the Saint and since that time there has always been a chapel of St. Anne in the Basilica and Cathedral of this beautiful city. The first chapel was built in 1658 on a piece of land donated by Messr. Etienne de Lessard.
Front View of Basilica
Rear View of the Basilica
St. Anne de Beaupré
This little sanctuary was dedicated to St. Anne in a place known as Le Petit Cap, a small village on a promontory near the St. Lawrence river in what was later to become Beaupré. Spring tide flooding badly damaged the original chapel in 1660, but within the space of just one year the construction of a new chapel had commenced. It was built on an adjacent piece of land to the east of the original plot. Once again Messr. Lessard generously donated the new plot which was further inland and ten feet above sea level.
Worshippers were using the chapel in 1662 and by 1669 it was finally completed. The present Basilica is the fifth church to be built here since 1658 and over the years millions of pilgrims have come to this place. The location of this magnificent Basilica is parallel to the St. Lawrence and is visible for miles from both sides of the river.
The Statue of St Anne, also known as The Statue of Miracles.
The stones of this beautiful church whisper gently to all who come here of the joys, happiness, hopes, fears, pain and suffering of all those who have placed their prayers before the Lord, His Blessed Mother and Her Mother.Within most of us there is a need to find the deeper meanings of life and we are constantly striving in search of happiness and peace. For many it is found in shrines and places of pilgrimage like this - in prayerful solitude and meditation. For others it is carried home in their hearts as an experience to be contemplated or put into action.
This beautiful statue, a depiction of St. Anne, sees thousands of pilgrims each year placing their prayers of petition at its base. We have included the Prayer to Saint Anne both in English and in French.
The day before I arrived was the closing day of the official season for the Shrine. As a result, my time there on the Tuesday morning was quiet and peaceful with only one bus tour of people from Toronto, whom I joined for Mass. In the basement of the Basilica is the small but beautiful Blessed Sacrament Chapel and early morning Mass is televised daily from here and shown on cable 9.
The Chapel of The Immaculate Conception
The basement also houses a large replica of Michaelangelo's Pietà, the original of which is to be found in St. Peter's in Rome. I rambled around and spent some peaceful and quiet time in the Immaculate Conception Chapel, also in the basement of the Basilica. Apart from some workmen at the back I was the only person in this beautiful place. The statue of Mary on the altar is the work of Franz Moroder.
|The lovely mural, painted
by Frédéric Doyon, is to be found in this little basement
chapel and it shows St. Anne, her husband St. Joachim and their daughter
It brought home to me a profound realisation of the humanity of Jesus. Here was a depiction of His Mother as a child and His earthly grandparents.
As a grandmother I began to reflect on the family and its place as the cornerstone of society. In this modern world of ours, particularly in the last century, we see the family under constant attack.
I thought of a book I had read while in Medugorje earlier in the year and the message in that book finally came home to me here in this place. That book had challenged me then but this picture made me focus on its meaning.
St Anne, St Joachim
Entitled 'How To Change Your Husband' it was written by Terry Colafrancesco (St. James Publishing, Caritas, Birmingham, Alabama, USA). It certainly throws some light on marital breakdown and the destruction of the family and it offers some very challenging reasons, answers and possible solutions - not for the stout hearted feminist, girls.
Many people have written to me seeking more information on the Basilica. As this is just a personal website from an Irish Pilgrim, anyone who may have enquiries about St. Anne de Beaupré can contact the shrine by phoning or writing to them or by visiting their own website from the link:
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The Rest of the Journey
Our Canadian Journey starts with my drive from Hamilton to Quebec. We have included the Prayer to Saint Anne both in English and in French, stop in a whisper a wee prayer to her. After leaving Beaupré I spent the rest of the day enjoyably wandering aound Quebec CityThe main reason for my visit to Canada came about on the Wednesday and Grosse-Île, a tiny island east of Quebec City and the final resting place of over 6,000 of my country folk. It turned out to be facinating, poignant and yet enjoyable - a visit I will never forget and one I hope to repeat with some of my own family someday.
Heading for 'home' that night I got lost and somehow ended up in Cap-de-la-Madeleine, which has the most famous of Canada's Catholic Shrines - Notre Dame du Cap. What a grand day I spent there!
Finally back to Ontario and a week of relaxation, renewed friendships, joy and tranquillity before heading back home to Galway in Ireland.
For those who have just joined me on this page why not go to the beginning and see some of the earlier places in The Start of Our Journey through the West of Ireland. My Place Amongst the Stones gives the history of my company name, Moytura - a celtic heritage going back thousands of years.
Back to our Irish journey and to my own parish of Lackagh - a small village just 12 miles from Galway with a mighty big history telling a story of one of Ireland's bloodiest conflicts in the 16th century - The Battle of Knockdoe.
From there we move on to take a quick jaunt around Galway City; and then out to the heart of Connemara - with its wild and wonderful beauty.
Our journey goes south into County Clare to see The Burren - a place that has lain undisturbed since the Ice-age and of immense botanical, ecological and archaeological importance.
We visit Ireland's finest early monastic heritage centre in Clonmacnoise in County Offaly and to my favourite of all the early Christian Church locations - Clonfert, with its beautiful tiny 12th century Cathedral of Saint Brendan. Come with me around the grounds of this lovely tiny cathedral and see the 1000 year old Yew Walk. While there, you can learn a potted history of Saint Brendan the Navigator, possibly the first European to set foot in North America in the 6th. century. See how we celebrated a most historic announcement when Clonfert Cathedral was listed in the World Monuments Watch 2000 as one of the world's most endangered buildings.
Join me on my 'Famine Journey' which starts in Westport, moves to Sligo and ends up here in Grosse-Île.
Finally, come with me on my pilgrimage to a peaceful haven in a war-torn country in Medugorje in Bosnia-Hercegovinia. The other areas of my Web site can be found in the drop-down box below.
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