As I awoke this morning I lay in bed contemplating many things of past and present. My thoughts were somehow drawn to a very powerful and overwhelming experience I had during a vacation trip I took with my family, my pregnant wife of that time and my son, to a place in eastern Canada where a pilgrimage of over one million people witness something extraordinary.
Nestled on the shoreline of the St. Lawrence River some twenty miles northeast of Quebec City in the province of Quebec stands a monumental structure of congregated masses in prayer, hymn, sanctuary, and historical accounting of healing and miracles. The Basilica of Sainte-Anne de Beaupre stands in imposing Gothic architecture of high arching spires and windows of stained glass grandeur, a major Roman Catholic shrine. I had heard and read of this place. Although I do not espouse to embrace any particular faith or religious conviction I attended Presbyterian and United churches in my early years and have always had a sense of “understanding” or “belief” that there must be some higher being or power or otherwise powerful entity that has brought this world and all its magnificent and imperfect inhabitants to being.
And so it was that in the summer of ’82 that we journeyed to the east coast of Canada, to parts previously undiscovered by ourselves. On a gorgeous sunny morning after an enchanting stay in the quaint and historic settlement village of old Quebec City, we turned northeast along the St. Lawrence seaway to the tiny town of Sainte-Anne de Beaupre where we witnessed the incredibly moving and inspiring shrine to the patron saint of Quebec, a place where historic legend holds that those of infirmity, disability and debilitating illness or otherwise impaired mobility entered upon its chapel and larger place of worship in braces, crutches, with cane or in wheel chair, sick and disparate, seemingly lost and without hope. All they had left was their faith, their salvation as it were. They crossed a threshold into a place where dreams and possibilities, however seemingly remote or impossible, came true for many…they walked out of the basilica without aid. Miracles and healing were borne of this place.
No matter what we choose to believe you truly have to wonder…
For those of you who wish to share in this truly incredible experience, not necessarily to discover the presence or absence of your own faith, I would urge you to take your own personal pilgrimage to this amazing place of worship along the waters of the St. Lawrence…I will never forget.
Find out more about the basilica here at Sainte-Anne de Beaupres
My ascent upon steps of basilican shrine
Where faith and its attentions rest in sacred walls
This towering cathedral of eminence draws
Silent force of enormity and confluence
Breaths exhaled shallow, quiet anticipation
My footfalls echoing the fervent pilgrimage
Of scores embracing belief in higher being
Before me emotions entangled, many questions
Unanswered, lo unfamiliar in Thy presence
Would I walk amoungst hallowed halls unanointed
With waters purified by your sanctity
My passage now into the chapel intensely
Amplifies the overwhelming complexity
Of Your word, Your promise, every deliverance
Of miracles and healing by Your graceful hand
Tears flow as overpowering consciousness streams
Eyes absorbing this divinity as bandage
A hanging monument of Holy interventions
Wheel chairs, crutches, canes and discarded braces
Hung as in witness to otherworldly devotions
They rose as in resurrection forever more
To walk again unaided, their blessed reward
For those of His choosing…and those who would believe
copyright 2009 Don MacIver; All Rights Reserved