As if that (the Ursuline Chapel) wasn’t enough, from there we drove east along the coast of Beaupré to the Shrine of Ste Anne de Beaupré. CSB has never before visited a pilgrimage site, and I intended to remedy this lacuna in his experience. True, Ste-Anne-de-Beaupré basilica is huge, and there is a Cyclorama of Jerusalem, and the museum has many wax figure dioramas of Ste Anne’s life, and lots of gift stores selling holy medals, and not one single decent place to eat, but the truth is that all this was classic northern reticence when compared with the Latin and dramatic spectacle of pilgrims approaching the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe on their knees, from miles away.
Inside the vast basilica, in the Chapel of the Relic, I noted the reliquary in the shape of an arm, with a golden hand and a glass forearm encasing the sacred bone. I said to CSB that I wondered whose arm it was since there was no way it could be Ste Anne’s – she was Jesus’ grandmother for goodness sake so it seemed ridiculous to think her bones were saved.
Of course I was wrong.
And then in the gift shop, not only did I find a basilica snow globe, but at every cash register there were stacks of plastic bottles for 75¢ you could buy and then fill with holy water conveniently located at a spigot right inside the shop. CSB agreeably went to fill the bottle for me, and I made a small prayer of apology to his good Anglican and Episcopal forefathers who would have been horrified at such Papist and superstitious magical thinking.
Then we ate an inedible meal at the Café des Pelerins.
Roll over, ye puritan ancestors.