At the end of May/start of June, it was my good fortune to travel to Quebec province with six friends to observe wildlife there, especially the migration of warblers who arrive in their beautiful breeding plumage. There were thousands of birds and I also enjoyed documenting other wildlife – it will take me some time to go through all the photos to select some for sharing. In the meantime, I’m breaking from my usual postings about natural areas and animals to show something of urban and rural Quebec to start off this multi-part series.
On our way to Quebec City, we stopped to see the Shrine of Sainte Anne-de-Beaupré, a church complex devoted to Jesus of Nazareth’s grandmother. The shrine’s brochure claims it is the oldest pilgrimage site in North America, while the website says it is the second oldest. The pilgrims include various Native American groups according to their tourist information. One stained-glass window featured a Byzantine cleric and a female Italian pilgrim.
The bits of info that I read mentioned various Native American groups who visit, but I don’t recall the Inuit being among them. In Quebec shops, we could admire some of the beautiful Inuit and other Native American art for sale (apologies for the reflections in the window that made photographing it difficult).
The basilica includes mosaics in the ceiling showing Ste Anne learning to read in a temple; the church houses three relics of the Saint – a forearm, finger bone and other pieces of bones.
In 1658, a man names Louis Guimont was healed at the chapel; now the basilica houses two columns displaying crutches, immobilization masks used during radiation therapy and other symbols of ill health that was said to be cured through divine intervention.
A side chapel houses what appears to be a baptismal font; a statue of St. Anthony of Padua is at the back of the basilica.
As in Catholic churches I have visited, there were stations of the cross.
The shrine appears to be a money-maker as so many church ventures seem to be. A special office with large windows featured a priest wearing a nice straw hat to complement his robes as he blessed people who presumably had paid a fee for this. This was the first time I had seen a facility like this at a church; I would have thought that blessings would be freely given.
A large, well-stocked gift shop featured shelves of holy water, religious items and a series of stone and wood scenes created by Normand Simard, ‘a man of nature who uses Charlevoix region stones to create men of stone, ducks and bird houses.’ The ends of the pews in the basilica also featured carvings including animals and birds so even in a man-made structure dedicated to thinking about an afterlife instead of our world, nature managed to have its presence acknowledged.
Next up: a visit to Quebec City