Francis Celebrates Papal Mass at Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré Basilica

After the visit with the Prime Minister and Governor General at The Citadelle of Quebec, today 28 July 2022, Pope Francis celebrated a Mass of Reconciliation at the Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré

Continuing his Penitential Pilgrimage, today Pope Francis arrived at Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré to offer a mass of reconciliation at the basilica.  The Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré is located in Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, not far from Quebec City, Canada. It is a place of pilgrimage and the main gathering traditionally takes place on July 26, the feast of Saint Anne. The basilica has three relics of St Anne and the Virgin Mary.

The shrine hosts close to one million visitors each year, making it one of the most popular destinations in Québec. The building is in the neo-Romanesque style and is built in the shape of a cross. The basilica is about 100 meters high, from the floor to the top of its bell towers. It is approximately 60 meters wide at the crossing of the transepts and 50 meters wide at the front. The building is approximately 100 meters long. For more details on the history, architecture and pictures refer to this article on our site.

For many years, Indigenous People have traveled to this Church in the last week of July to take part in the festivities surrounding the celebration of the Feast Day of Saint Anne which is on July the 26th, this year being no exception. Many Indigenous people have been camped out in the vicinity of this Basilica in every direction for days in anticipation of this visit from Pope Francis, which will add a special grace to their annual pilgrimage. In Indigenous culture, the grandmother features very prominently in their communities, and so the Holy Father, as a way of indicating his closeness to indigenous peoples, honoured St. Anne, the grandmother of Jesus, precisely because of her role and identity, by having his first mass on her feast day and today by having mass at her national shrine.

Upon arrival at the site, the first order of business was a giro, “a tour among the Faithful”, in the Popemobile where the Holy Father greeted those who are assembled around the building. In the popemobile along with Pope Francis was His Eminence Cardinal Lacroix, the Archbishop of Quebec City. There was a lot of waving and cheering for Pope Francis, chants of Vive la Papa could be heard across the courtyard and streets of the little town. Pope Francis stopped a few times to bless and kiss babies. The babies often seem quite bewildered about what is happening but the parents’ smiles beam as the little one is blessed by the pope and the crowd cheer on uproariously.  Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also attended and shook hands with a few people as he entered from a side entrance before stopping for a few interviews with the National Broadcaster.  The Holy Father then made his way into the Basilica to prepare for the celebration of the Mass. The mass was said inside the basilica but there was a huge amount of people watching outside on the big screens and also on big screens at The Plains of Abraham where it was simultaneously live streamed.

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The intention for today’s Mass is that people may be reconciled with each other and to the Church a Walking Together which is the theme of this papal penitential pilgrimage to Canada. This idea was reflected in the scripture that has been chosen. The Mass was the optional ritual for praying for the intention of Reconciliation and not the regular daily weekday mass (Thursday 17th week in ordinary time).

The bells of the basilica peeled loudly to indicate that mass was about to commence. The Choir sang in French as the procession consisting of altar servers lead the way for the Bishops and Cardinals. Together they entered the sanctuary and prepared the altar for the celebration of the Mass. Due to his mobility constraints, Pope Francis could not join the Procession but appeared from behind the sanctuary with the assistance of his security, who helped him to his seat from where he presided over the Holy Mass.

At the beginning of the Mass, some people unfurled a banner that said, “Rescind the Doctrine of Discovery,” which is not an official Church doctrine, but consists of a series of edicts published in the 15th century endorsing the colonization of West Arica and the Americas.

The banner was quickly taken down by the individuals holding it, and while it did not disrupt the ceremony, the act is indicative of the still-tenuous relationship between the Catholic Church and First Nations in Canada.

Cardinal Lacroix incensed the altar while the choir finished singing the hymn, and then Pope Francis started the introductory rites from the chair. The First Reading from the Book of Genesis 3, 8-15. 20-21. In this Reading, God is asked the question to Adam and Eve after they have just sinned. “Where are you?” The Holy Father had reflected upon this passage in his original apology address, where he reminds us how after we have sinned, we have the tendency to hide, but that our healing comes in presenting ourselves before the Lord. The Psalm 129 “De Profundis” was the responsorial psalm. Psalm 129 is the sixth penitential psalm and is a prayer of a sinner, trusting in the mercies of God.

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The Gospel reading was Luke 24, 13-35, where Jesus meets the two on the road to Emmaus. The Gospel passage is a papal favorite. We hear of the account on the morning of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, meeting with the two who are walking dejected to a village in nearby Jerusalem.

The theme of this week ‘Walking Together’ or ‘Marcher Ensemble’ reflects this experience, familiar to the disciples of Jesus, always walking with Him even as He may not be recognized at first, listening to Him, learning from Him, confronting challenges among themselves and in their surroundings, ultimately seeking to be accompanied by Him. This is the prayer of the pope for the people of Canada, especially the Indigenous People. The Holy Father preached a sermon on the Gospel on the theme of reconciliation ‘Reconciled with God, with others and with ourselves, may we ourselves become instruments of reconciliation and peace within our societies.’ Read the full text here.

Élisabeth, Jeannette and Solange Vollant are three sisters from Pessamit who lead while the offertory hymn was sang in the Innu language.  Two deacons prepared the bread and wine at the Altar for the Eucharistic rite. Due to the inability of Pope Francis to remain standing that long at the altar, Cardinal Lacroix assisted him by presiding over the rites at the altar, with the Holy Father fully participating while seated. The Eucharistic prayer was, the Eucharistic Prayer of Reconciliation II, and was said in French with bells and incense to convey the significance that the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. The official missal as per the Vatican though had the Eucharistic Prayer in Latin.

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At the sign of peace, Prime Minister Trudeau was seen walking down the main aisle shaking hands of people who were attending mass

At the conclusion of Mass, His Eminence, Cardinal Lacroix, the Archbishop of Quebec City,  extended words of thanksgiving to the Holy Father for his presence on this day and gifted His Holiness a chalice.
After the final blessing, the Holy Father stopped to view the traditional and magnificent sculpture of Saint Anne holding in her arms the young child Mary, her daughter.  This is a unique representation as Mary is not frequently depicted as a young child herself. The pope had a prayerful look on his face and almost seemed to be choking back tears. The Pope also blessed a baby with a birth defect whose mother brought the child to the Holy Father.

The choir sang a traditional hymn in honour of the patroness of the Basilica Saint Anne as the bishops and cardinals departed the sanctuary and proceed directly to the sacristy. The Holy Father then proceeded motorcade to Quebec City.

– Raju Hasmukh

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