Monday, July 16, 2007
The power of faith
Well, we have returned from a truly amazing family trip to Quebec, more on that later. Among all of the fantastic touring, dining and attempting French, one thing that stood out was a trip to Saint Anne de Beaupre. This basilica is up the Saint Lawrence river from Quebec city and is more than just a place of worship, but is a shrine to which Catholics make pilgrimage. The brief history is that the church was built in the 1700's by fishermen who survived a bad storm, and attributed their survival to Saint Anne, mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary, to whom they prayed. The current basilica was built in the 1920's and is magnificent architecturally, from enormous copper depictions on the doors, to every aspect of the worship space. But this is not what depicts the power of faith. What strikes the eye upon entering is that each of the columns at the rear of the nave have crutches, canes, braces and orthopedic shoes mounted upon them. These are placed here by people who have traveled to the shrine and prayed for healing, and believe that St Anne has interceded, leading to their healing. While I contemplated this display, I heard the shuffling of feet and turned to see a sighted person leading a chain of blind people, linked hand in hand, who were headed to pray to St Anne. Their faces were those of people with hope, maybe even a glimmer of joy at the thought their prayer might be answered. Regardless of your thoughts about veneration of saints, or intercessory prayer, these people were a modern depiction of those who hoped to merely touch the hem of Jesus' robe. And their statement of the power of faith, without a word ever uttered, said more that day than anything anyone could have written.