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Nihil Obstat: William J. Blacet, J.C.L.
Imprimatur: +J. John P. Cody, S.T.D.
Bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph
December 4, 1957
Originally published by the Benedictine Convent of Perpetual Adoration, Clyde, Missouri in 1958.
Revised edition published in 1963. Retypeset and re-published by TAN Books and Publishers, Inc. in 1998.
Updates and additions made to information on shrines by the Publisher, 1998.
TAN BOOKS AND PUBLISHERS
Veneration of Saint Anne in the Americas
The Spanish missionaries in particular, who labored in Mexico and South America, sought to inspire their converts with affection for St. Anne. These zealous heralds of the Faith, while announcing the doctrine of our Divine Savior, also laid the foundation of fervent and tender devotion to Mary, His virgin Mother, and proclaimed everywhere the honor and glory of good St. Anne.
VIEW IMAGES OF THE BEAUPRE SHRINE
Saint Anne de Beaupré
In recent years, the New World has been venerating St. Anne in a special manner. Canada claims the title of the "Land of St. Anne." The early missionaries who came from Bretagne [Brittany], France, firmly established devotion to St. Anne in the hearts of the faithful. The first and principal place of pilgrimage to the honor of St. Anne in Canada was Beaupré, with its magnificent basilica of St. Anne.
The history of this shrine is as interesting as it is miraculous.
One night in 1650, some sailors were overtaken on the St. Lawrence by a frightful storm. Their vessel was driven by the wind and waves toward the rocky banks. They were seemingly about to perish, and no earthly aid was near. In their peril, they implored the help of good St. Anne, the patroness of their beloved Brittany, and vowed, if saved, to build a chapel in her honor on whatever spot they should land.
Morning dawned, and to their great astonishment, they found themselves on the north bank of the river at Beaupré. They landed and erected a little shrine in honor of good St. Anne, their deliverer. In 1656, Beaupré was made a parish by Msgr. de Laval, Bishop of Quebec. A parish church was erected the following year.
While the foundation of the building was being laid, the first attested marvel was wrought. Louis Guimond, a prey to keen sufferings, cherished an ardent devotion to St. Anne. He wished to have a share in erecting a shrine in her honor and managed to bring three stones for the foundation of the church. After accomplishing this act of devotion, he was suddenly and completely cured.
The wonders began to multiply. They were attested by Bishop de Laval in 1662. Father Morel, who was pastor at that time, wrote: "Of much more importance than all these cures are the spiritual graces daily bestowed by Almighty God through the intercession of good St. Anne on many a sinner, by converting him to a better life. Having performed the pastoral functions in the church for five or six years, I have known many persons who experienced the grace of so happy a change."
In 1662, while Father Morel was still pastor at Beaupré, Blessed Marie of the Incarnation, who was the foundress of the Ursuline Nuns of Quebec, wrote from that city to a relative who lived back in France:
"Some twenty miles from here ... is a church of St. Anne in which Our Lord works great wonders for the sake of the holy mother of the most Blessed Virgin Mary. At this shrine, paralytics obtain strength to walk, the blind receive their sight, and the sick, no matter what their ailment may be, regain their health."
Over three centuries have elapsed since then, but the wonders wrought by good St. Anne have never ceased. In time a basilica, magnificent in its beauty and proportions, was erected to her honor at Beaupré. Its most remarkable feature was the countless number of crutches, canes, trusses and even eyeglasses which were suspended or piled in the chapels as the ex votos of innumerable invalids who thus bore witness to their recovery through the assistance of good St. Anne.
But even such monuments are in the hands of Divine Providence, and as though to indicate that a yet worthier monument should be dedicated to the honor of good St. Anne, the magnificent basilica was completely destroyed by fire on the morning of March 29, 1922. After the hungry flames had completed their work of destruction, all that remained of the splendid structure were broken and scattered turrets, charred and dismantled walls, heaps of debris, seared and scattered ex votos. The disaster was complete, but wonder of wonders, over the shapeless mass of what had been: the basilica, above the crumbling portal, between the two broken towers, stood the wooden statue of St. Anne, holding in her arms the Blessed Virgin Mary. And standing unscathed amid the ruins, the miraculous statue of the Saint still held in its gilt casing the great relic of St. Anne.
What was to be done to accommodate the crowds of pilgrims who came to venerate the wondrous statue? The problem was solved by erecting a temporary church. In thirty-seven days St. Anne was provided with a new "basilica," a simple wooden church in which the miraculous statue was enshrined and which witnessed the cures of thousands of devout clients. But alas, during the night of November 8, 1926, the wooden framework of this temporary basilica fell; prey to another conflagration.
Rising upon the ashes of this modest shrine to the honor of St. Anne is the present great Basilica, beautiful and majestic in its Romanesque architecture, Indeed a worthy monument in stone to the great Saint from whose maternal heart streams of mercy have flowed to mankind.
Well over two million pilgrims visit the shrine annually, proving how greatly St. Anne is venerated among the faithful and what confidence they place in her intercession. Since the beginning of the shrine in 1658, over 46,500,000 pilgrims [1963 statistics] and visitors from all over the world have come to venerate the relics of good St. Anne and to implore her intercession. The peak of 2,000,000 visitors was reached in 1957. Many people come in pilgrimages, which are becoming ever more popular. St. Anne's feast [July 26] always draws immense crowds to the shrine. As is natural, most of the visitors are from the United States and Canada, though far distant parts of the globe are not without representatives.
The year 1958 marked the Third Centenary of the founding of the Shrine of St. Anne de Beaupré. Nearly three million pilgrims took part in the Tercentennial celebrations, inaugurated on the first Sunday of May and concluded on October 12. Congresses, pilgrimages, novenas, triduums and symposia highlighted each month.