Give it a day to walk around the Church, Museum and surrounding areas. It is like Catholic Pilgrimage, many miracles have happened here through the intercession of St. Anne, patron Saint of Quebec, Mother of the Virgin Mary, and Grandmother of Jesus.
Interesting artifacts can be found attesting to the miracles happening to devotees and even non believers.
The basilica of Ste Anne de Beaupre is a place of pilgrimage, receiving at least a half million pilgrims every year. The highest point is the Feast of Ste Anne, on July 26.
The original church, started in 1658, was burned down and the present basilica is not 100% finished as yet. It was consecrated in 1976.
It is dedicated to St Anne, who is also the patron saint of Quebec. However, it became much more than that. It is associated with miracles. One of the builders, Guimard, was afflicted with rheumatism when he started the project and needed crutches to walk. When it was finished he was able to walk totally independently.
To be honest I don't entirely understand the fascination with relics in the Catholic Church.
Anyway, the Shrine of St Anne has three notable relics
One is a portion of the bone of St Anne's finger, which was brought to the Shrine in 1670.
The other two significant relics are two pieces of St Anne's forearm.
One of the original designer/builders of the St Anne church had the miracle of his ability to walk being restored to him. Pilgrims come and you will see as you enter the basilica a large ammount of crutches that pilgrims have left.
Who was Ste Anne? Not much is written about her in the Bible but Anne is mentioned as the mother of the Virgin Mary, hence the grandmother of Jesus Christ.
Anne is the patron saint of Quebec. She also the patron saint of horseback riders, housewives, grandmothers, unmarried women, women in labor and miners.
This is an impressive church built pretty much in the middle of nowhere. The town itself is really small, it has not grown significantly in the last years and yet it's a place visited by thousands of people - or at least it used to be, because it's my understanding that the attendance has decreased a lot - who just come to visit Saint Anne from all over the world. At least once a year there's a massive pilgrimage coming to this place, and I can say that the church itself is a lovely building.
This basilica was seriously damaged by a fire by the beginning of last century, and I think this is not the only tragedy it has overcome along its history, but it has been rebuilt and it's really beautiful.
One of the things I liked the most was the altar they had just raised for pope Jean Paul II, who had just died a few days before my visit to the church. They had flowers and beautiful pictures of the pope's visit & benediction to this church in the 80's.
I have been in Sainte Anne de Beaupre twice. The first time I was there was in 1985. I remember a Waterfall Park a few miles north of Saint Anne de Beaupre. I can not remember the exact name of it. I know it is not Montmorency Falls. The waterfalls here were spectacular. I also remember getting a great view of both Sainte Anne de Beaupre and Quebec City from the mountain here.
The Basilica in itself is a sight to see. There are spectacular stained glass windows and excellent statues of religious figures here as well. The Stations of the Cross on the hill has some great statues as well. Just remember that many Catholics come on a pilgrimage to here and are actively persuing their faith. So you have to be respectful.
In the entrance, notice the big stained-glass window above the door. It shows the progress of pilgrims through the shrine and has a rose window as centerpiece
The main building is the most impressive. Around it, you will find a monastery, a seminary, a museum and a blessing office.
On the upper floor, above the altar, this rich status all in gold was presented by Pope John XXIII in 1960
The interior is lit by the sun through the numerous glass-stained windows, creating multiple colors that make the cream and gold interior look magic