The leaves are at their peak once again and the cruise shippers are here in force. After two cancelled years, it is a joy to have them back, at least for this Québec City tour guide.

Among the sites they see during their eight-hour stopover is Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré. A pilgrimage destination since the mid-17th century when Louis Guimont was miraculously cured of his kidney ailment, the Sanctuary of Saint Anne draws thousands every year. They come especially in late July, around the time of the Feast of Saint Anne. At that time of the year, the hotels and campgrounds of the region are at capacity hosting the Catholic faithful. This year’s annual pilgrimage was graced by the presence of none other than Pope Francis I. At the basilica, he gave a mass that was attended by thousands, including a not insignificant number of protestors. Québec society today has a hard-earned skepticism toward the Catholic Church.

My customers as well sometimes express doubt when they learn that Saint Anne’s Basilica is on the day’s itinerary. They will preemptively declare that religion is “not their thing”, that they are not interested in visiting a church during their limited time. I do understand their reticence, but even the most hardened of skeptics find something beautiful in this place of pilgrimage 30-some kilometers from Old Québec. They admire the size, scale, and Romanesque architecture of this grandiose structure that rivals the great cathedrals of Europe. They admire the artistry of the interior and the artisans who spent years bringing it to fruition. And they admire the picturesque commemorative buildings that surround the main structure. The replica of the 1676 church is especially beautiful against the backdrop of Québec fall foliage.

13 thoughts on “Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré”

  1. It’s history, plain and simple. These “religious” buildings or relics of all ages can be an important part of any historical tour. Keep up what you are doing, Neil.

  2. I was there on Thursday for a private tour with a couple from Texas and they were overwhelmed by the life-sized Stations of the Cross as we walked along the path behind the church, a jewel of artistry.

  3. Heather Edwards

    Happy memories of our trip and tour with you although slightly problematical with husband in a wheelchair due to a fall on our cruise ship.
    Good wishes to you Neil and your family
    From Ken and Heather Edwards Surrey England

  4. We enjoyed visiting Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré during our tour with you so much we plan to return and visit again to spend more time in this beautiful and historic church.

  5. I too am not religious – but St. Anne’s was just beautiful. If I worship anything it’s humankind’s incredible architecture and art. When it is driven by devotion, it just achieves and incredible beauty. While I don’t do the devotion I recognize that those who do, just must get a wonderful emotional lift from combining their beliefs with such craft and beauty.

  6. Fond memories of our visit to this beautiful church on our tour with you. One does not need to be an adherent to the Catholic religion to feel privileged to get to see, enter and experience this treasure.

    Sam Sperry

  7. Our tour with you on Oct. 1st was truly amazing. Glad you are enjoying sharing your knowledge of this beautiful city Loved all the stops we made including St. Anne’s. Walking quietly around in the church, looking at all the intricate artwork, I enjoyed listening to the singing during the funeral. Lynda

  8. Merci Neil pour ce compte-rendu. Si ce n’est pas pour la religion, la visite en vaut la peine du simple point de vue de l’aspect culturel de la chose. Cette basilique représente bien l’importance que la religion catholique a tenu dans la vie des Québecois d’avant la révolution tranquille. Même Jacques Demers, alors coach du Canadien, avouait candidement être aller y faire un tour avant sa coupe Stanley!


  9. Hi Neil,

    When I was a kid, a long time ago, my whole family and I visited the Basilica at least one time a year, asking God and Ste-Anne to forgive our sins and to protect all of us. But time has changed… and following what we call The Quiet Revolution, many French-Quebecers (me included) questioned their faith, rejected the authoritarianism (indeed the social control) of the Catholic Church and gradually put this institution out of their lives. But beyond that, we must be able to recognize the exceptional architectural legacy that we inherited from the Catholic Church… And the Basilica of Ste-Anne de Beaupré is certainly one of the most impressive example in the Province.
    Thanks again for your article. DL

  10. Even if someone has no faith, this place is so beautiful. I admire the artistic work that we can see there.

    Thank you so much,


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