Saint Anne’s Triduum in Cormac: Part III of III

August 23, 2022

Saint Anne’s Triduum in Cormac: Part III of III

The History of the Devotion to Saint Anne + Homily for Sunday, July 31, 2022

The history of the devotion to Saint Anne at St. Anne-de-Beaupré

How did the cult of Saint Anne travel as far as New France, Canada? We have to go back to the construction of a famous church in the north-west of France to understand it.  A chapel was built very early in the first centuries of Christendom in honour of Saint Anne, but this chapel was destroyed towards the end of the 7th century. Miraculously, at the beginning of the 17th century, the flame of devotion to Saint Anne rekindled!

A virtuous peasant, Yves Nicolazic, following apparitions of Mary and Saint Anne, makes it known that it is the desire of heaven that the old chapel of Saint Anne needs to be rebuilt.  People accuse him of hallucinating.  In March 1625, an antique statuette of Saint Anne is found providentially and miracles start to happen. The chapel is then rebuilt.  In 1877, a new basilica in Sainte-Anne-d’Auray, France is consecrated.

The ancestors of the French-Canadian people came from Brittany and Normandy, from this part of France that praised Saint Anne. On July 26, 1535, Jacques Cartier and his sailors celebrate the feast of Saint Anne. In 1629, in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, the first chapel is erected in honour of St. Anne. The Micmacs, Hurons and other aboriginal communities imitated the early settlers in their devotion to Mary’s mother. As it was said at the time, everyone observes “la Sainte Anne.”

In 1622, Pope Gregory XV, gravely ill, is miraculously healed by the intercession of Saint Anne. He then orders that her feast become everywhere a feast of precept. The first religious communities, Jesuits, Sulpicians, Recollets, Ursulines and others land in New France during this period and begin to evangelize. They are sent by none other than King Louis XIV, son of the Queen of France, Anne of Austria, who was childless for a long time, and who after invoking Saint Anne gave birth to a son who would become heir to the throne. This also contributes to a rise in the cult of Saint Anne in Europe.  And since our good religious have just arrived from France to evangelize the new world, they pass on the devotion in the good Saint Anne at the same time.

The history of the Shrine of St. Anne de Beaupré is closely linked to the life of the Church and has left its mark on Canada and all of America. The beginnings are modest, as a small wooden chapel is first built on the shore of the St. Lawrence River in 1658, close to Côte-de-Beaupré. Breton sailors according to legend, are threatened by a violent storm; they invoke Saint Anne to rescue them.  They make a pledge by which they promise to ask the people to build a small chapel in honor of Saint Anne. No sooner is the first chapel erected, a disabled man of Côte-de-Beaupré named Louis Guimont is miraculously healed by the intercession of Saint Anne. It suffices for him to lay three small stones in the foundation, and his back which was bent in two and supported with the help of crutches, miraculously straightens itself.  Soon after, a 14-year-old epileptic boy is cured.

As early as 1665, Saint Marie of the Incarnation, an Ursuline, writes to her son, a priest in France: “There is, at seven leagues from Quebec, a church to Saint Anne in which the Lord performs great wonders in honour of the holy mother of the most Holy Virgin. The paralytics walk, the blind receive their sight, the sick are healed from whatever diseases they have and recover their health.”                                                         

In 1680, the first bishop of Quebec, Saint Francois de Montmorency Laval, confirmed the truthfulness of these testimonies. Since then, astonishing favors and miracles have continued to be granted by the powerful intercession of the good Saint Anne. The archives of miracles still bear witness to this today: Saint Anne is always active and present in this great and holy place of the Christian Faith.


Favours obtained through the powerful intercession of Saint Anne

To conclude, I will tell you the story of a few people who were granted special favours through the powerful intercession of Saint Anne.

Caroline Lemay of Ste-Croix. Quebec, is one of thousands, perhaps of millions of people who received special favours at the Shrine of Saint-Anne-de-Beaupré since the first chapel was built on the Beaupré hillside in honour of Saint Anne in 1658.This special favour was granted to Caroline on September 29th, 1874.

The following narrative is from the pen of Rev. D. Gosselin, who was an eye-witness of this remarkable cure.

On September the 29th, in the year 1874, a lady residing in the parish of Ste-Croix and aged 35 years, was carried down upon a bed to the feet of the statue of Saint Anne. This poor crippled woman, CAROLINE LEMAY by name, had been suffering for 15 years from the consequences of rheumatism and other ailments which, according to the doctor’s opinion, were quite serious, probably even incurable. As all medical resources proved unavailing, the sick woman realized that there was neither comfort nor cure to be hoped for but from above. She, therefore, turned her eyes to heaven and resolved to put her cause into the hands of St. Anne. She bound herself by vow to visit the Saint’s most venerated shrine in Canada; but before fulfilling the vow, she began a preparatory novena in honour of the Most Blessed Virgin’s mother.  

She derived no apparent benefit from this act of devotion; however, her faith was in no way weakened. On the contrary, she felt greater courage to undertake her proposed pilgrimage. As has been stated above, she was placed on a bed when she left her parents’ home, and this is the way she was taken to Ste-Anne-de-Beaupré.  

Such was this courageous woman’s confidence in the intercession of St. Anne, that she had brought with her the dress she looked forward to wearing on her return.  

The next morning, she was laid down in the church on her couch. She attended a Low Mass in this uncomfortable position, after which the relic of the great wonderworker was brought to her to be venerated. She kissed it with sentiments of a deep piety. There was a High Mass sung a few moments later. It was God’s will that His divine mercy should be granted her while the Holy Sacrifice going on; so at the moment of the elevation, she felt that something extraordinary was taking place within her: she was entirely rid of her sickness.  

She straightened herself up and sat down on her couch, to the astonishment of the many pilgrims who thronged the Basilica that day.  

When Mass was over, the parish priest drew near and inquired as to her condition: “I am cured” she said, beside herself with joy; “Yes, I am cured!” “Well, if it is so, let everyone here witness the fact; walk around the church. She immediately arose and went around the church twice. She was so thin that she almost appeared like a living skeleton; seeing her, the whole congregation was moved to tears. She then proceeded to the sacristy, meanwhile declaring that she felt very hungry and thirsty. Water was given her from the fountain of St. Anne. She drank three cups of it one after another and would have taken more, had not the parish priest stopped her and told her to go to the convent where she would get some nourishment.  

At that moment, a most touching scene took place: among the pilgrims of that day was the wife of the Honorable Gédéon Ouimet. She had been a witness of all that had happened, and deeply impressed, this Christian woman, animated with the liveliest faith, knelt down at the feet of the woman who had been cured, took her hand into her own, and kissed it with veneration, saying: ‘Since you are the object of St. Anne’s kindness, you have a right to our veneration and respect.” After this wonderful event, Miss Lemay spent a few days more at St. Anne’s. She was able to partake of her food with relish and enjoyed nights of calm and peaceful sleep.  

A few days later, she felt strong enough to walk down the long dock leading to the steamboat. She went home on Oct. 2nd, leaving at St. Anne her bed, to attest to her wonderful cure.  

(Signed) D. GOSSELIN, Priest.

 I myself, as a religious priest working at the Shrine, have been an eyewitness of many special favours granted by our good Saint Anne to pilgrims who came in faith to the Shrine. For example, in the span of one month a decade ago, as I was working in the blessing booth, three different couples told me that they came to the Shrine to ask Saint Anne to intercede for them, because they wanted a child after years of infertility. All three couples told me that they later had their child on the 26th of July, which is the feast day of our good Saint Anne.

But I must say that the most beautiful miracles that I have seen over and over during my 30 years of ministry at the Shrine occurred in the confessional. People who had not been to confession for decades were often crying as they promised to go back to church, to become more spiritual, charitable and prayerful. Many of them would use the confessional to testify to the great favours that they had obtained, sometimes years before. They simply came back to the Shrine in thanksgiving for the special favour they previously obtained from the intercession of the great Saint Anne, grandmother of Jesus.

Dear people of God, do not doubt her powerful intercession. Saint Anne does not perform any miracles: she simply turns to her grandson Jesus when you invoke her and ask her for a special favour. She simply smiles at him with your petition in her hands, and Jesus can’t refuse anything that she asks of him. Why not? Because he loves her so much, and he knows how much she loves him. Isn’t this how all grandparents act when they are in the presence of their beloved grandchildren? And the opposite is also true: grandchildren love their grandparents so much that they will usually comply and obey their every desire.

May good Saint Anne always protect you, guide you and make you experience her great love for you, dear faithful. Have faith in her, and you will experience how loving and kind she is to those who invoke her without any doubt. Don’t forget to make a promise to her before receiving your favour, and keep this promise that you have made to her. After working for so many years at the beautiful Shrine of Saint Anne, I recommend, if you want to receive a special favour from God, that your first step should be to find a priest and confess your sins before you ask Saint Anne a favour, especially if you have not been to confession for a long time. Children usually become very kind and obedient before their birthdays, because they are expecting a special gift. Imitate them: a good spiritual cleansing of the soul can only increase your chances of obtaining a miracle… for you or for someone you love dearly.

Bishop Guy Desrochers, C.Ss.R.


+ Guy Desrochers, C.Ss.R.
Bishop of Pembroke

Read: Statement of the Executive Committee of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops on the Russian Invasion of Ukraine

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