Facing Ile d’Orleans, the Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre Basilica near Mont Sainte-Anne has welcomed pilgrims since the mid 17th century. It is set along the Saint Lawrence River 30 kilometres (19 mi) east of Quebec City.
The basilica has been credited by the Catholic Church with many miracles of curing the sick and disabled. It is an important Catholic sanctuary visited by about a half a million pilgrims each year.
The basilica was initially a shrine to honour Saint Anne. It was built to provide a place of worship for the new settlers in the area and to house a marvellous statue of the saint.
The first reported miracle at the site happened during its construction. A man named Louis Guimond was hired to help build the shrine even though he suffered from rheumatism. After placing three stones upon the foundation, Guimond reportedly was cured of all his ailments. This was followed by other testimonies of healed people and the shrine soon grew in popularity. Pilgrims flocked there hoping to witness a miracle while others like Anne of Austria, the mother of the King of France, supported the shrine from their homes.
To accommodate all the pilgrims, the Catholic Church had to enlarge the building several times. In 1876, the first basilica opened for worship. The dimensions of the basilica, including the side chapels, were impressive: 158 × 77 m (200 ft × 100 ft). The first shrine was destroyed in a fire in 1922.
The present-day basilica was built on the site of the prior church in 1926. Miracles are still believed to be performed at the basilica. When entering the church one can see two pillars filled with racks of crutches, canes, braces, and other signs of disabilities.
Every item has reportedly been left by a pilgrim who claims being healed at the basilica. The wooded hillside next to it has a memorial chapel and a Way of the Cross, or Stations of the Cross.
St-Anne Basilica. Photo by © YaniQc