Thursday, March 26, 2009

Hallowed Turf

Basilica Has An Open-Door Policy

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON


If ever you seek proof that religion played a strong hand in Canada’s early history, drive about half an hour out of Quebec City, to the stunning Basilica of St Anne de Beaupre. Despite a strong religious background in my upbringing, I heard never heard of St Anne until my guide explained that the saint was the mother of the Virgin Mary and the grandmother of Jesus.


Inside the magnificent basilica is the statue of St Anne (above) carved from a single piece of oak. The gold crown is studded with diamonds, pearls and rubies and the figure is known as the statue of miracles.


I was in Quebec City in late 2005 at the invitation of the Canadian Tourism Commission. Having spent a memorable day in my childhood reading about the city’s rich history, it was a great privilege to be able to spend two days there as I toured the country’s east coast.

As I stood in wonderment in the middle of the basilica, I was struck by the realisation that despite the constant stream of pilgrims, there was a reverent, enveloping silence inside the stunning structure.


Acknowledged as the first pilgrimage shrine in North America, the original chapel was built in 1658. Apart from the deep faith and the strong historical links, the modern-day basilica is a must-see, even for those with no appreciation for architecture. I was there on a grey, rainy day, but the 240 stained-glass windows and the huge domed ceiling were a fabulous silent opera in magical light.

Many people tell you about miracles that have taken place on this hallowed ground. At the entrance are wheelchairs, crutches and other medical equipment, left behind by those who came with damaged bodies and souls but fortified with religious belief and who found a miraculous cure.


For earlier posts in this series, check out The Doors Archive.

33 comments:

Maggie May said...

I love the wonderful architecture that is so heavily carved in wood.
I also like the sound of the wheelchairs and crutches that have been left in the porch, never again to be collected.
Miraculous.....

Anna said...

What a beautiful door to the bassilica. I like your architecture photos. Thanks for sharing. Anna :)

diane said...

Hi David,
Daryl noted my door on today's post. Then mentioned your meme. I thought I'd throw you a shout. I may be a day early, but not a dollar short.

walk2write said...

I find it interesting that you used the word "turf" in your post. It suggests that your impression of the building was of a powerful, living, growing entity, not just a stack of bricks artfully arranged. Your pics bring the place to life, and your story about St. Anne adds a new dimension I was not aware of to Jesus' life. It's kind of funny to think of him having a grandma! Thanks for this post.

Daryl said...

Exquisite ..

and you must read this:http://travellingbutnotinlove.blogspot.com/2009/03/old-rugged-cross.html

Daryl said...

And you need to see this:

http://rosa-josies.blogspot.com/2009/03/corrales-new-mexico.html

jinksy said...

Cue the music from 'The Price of Egypt' - There can be miracles, when you believe...

Nessa said...

I love churches. They are so majectic.

Leesa said...

When we travel, we also find a place to worship. My hubbie used to think it was a pain-in-the-butt to do (hime converting to Catholicism and all). Now I think he enjoys it, mostly for the views.

Hilary said...

Beautiful! I've been around and near St Anne de Beaupre so many times on my way to the east coast, but never through it. Now I sure wish I had.

Shadow said...

wow, you are fortunate to have such riches around you. i feel we have far too little left here, everything gets modernised and minimalised...

Kathryn Lantz said...

I remember visiting here when my fam and I were on a 'motor home trip from hell' to Nova Scotia and back. We had gone in and my dad (not catholic) was slapped on the back of the head by my mom for wearing in his baseball hat. So he dutifully took it off and set it beside him on the pew. A few minutes later they needed to close the doors, and as they locked them right behind us, my dad realized his hat was still in there. Ah well. He said it was worth the hat to see architecture!
I'd love to do another trip out there, now that i'm old enough to really appreciate it all.

Mojo said...

Even in 1658 before it became priceless, I can't conceive of the money that went into this project. That copper clad door alone... Just breathlessly beautiful.

I can't even approach it, so it's good that I went to the opposite end of the scale this week.
The Doors #6: "Riddle Me This"

Cheffie-Mom said...

These photos are beautiful. When I was in France I took pictures of the architecture. It was amazing.

The Girl From Cherry Blossom Street said...

Sir David,
That is a strikingly impressive shot of the ceiling!
A series of beautiful images of another magnificent cathedral.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Incredible architecture and colour.

CJ xx

TheWritersPorch said...

Now that is a set of eye catching doors David !! I don't think I've ever seen anything that beautiful!
Thank you SO much for sharing the beautiful shots with us!
Carol

cheshire wife said...

Spectacular - inside and out.

Sniffles and Smiles said...

I must make a visit here...So stunningly beautiful! Thanks for sharing these!

imac said...

What a beautiful place to visit David.

Dr.John said...

Thanks for the grand tour. Faith was important to the early settlers in both countries.

introspection said...

Perfect, pictures. Fit to be framed. The chapel gets a majestic look by prefissional photos. I love to visit architcural sights. Thanks for sharing your exclusive pictures..!

aims said...

I think I'm going to have to make my own pilgrimage David even though I'm not Catholic.

Who knew we had such a wonderful place right here in Canada? Of course - now that I live on the other side of the country......

rosiescribble said...

Simply stunning, David. And an appropriate Easter post!

Charles Gramlich said...

I am Catholic and I've seen some amazing Catholic Churches. This is a real beauty

joan said...

What a beautiful place! Love the doors............

The Muse said...

Glorious...Stunning... and spirit filled!!!

Rinkly Rimes said...

I already regretted never visiting Quebec! Now I feel it even more!

An English Shepherd said...

Hi, Thanks for visting my blog, lovely pictures of the church on yours :-)

Cath said...

Beautiful architecture and artwork. I am so glad you pointed the camera straight up too. Fantastic photos. What a great experience that must have been.

The Teamster said...

William Randolph Hearst spent much of his life traveling to Europe buying old chapels and churches to use in his Hearst Castle in San Simeon California. A little bit of old history right in our back yard. Thanks for the great pics and the history...

Louise said...

I agree that it must be a wonderful place, even if one is not into architecture. (But how can one not be when seeing the marvels of churches so old?) The doors alone look worth the trip to me.

Ananda girl said...

Stunning... it gives me shivers.