Basilica Has An Open-Door Policy
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.