In discussing “Treacherous Waters” in a group with French-Canadian ancestry, I mentioned what I’d learned about Ste. Anne as a patroness of voyageurs. I felt so smug.

Then Marie asked, “Which Ste. Anne? Ste. Anne de Beaupré?”

Oops. More than one Ste. Anne? I didn’t have a clue. Time to dig deeper.

Who is Ste. Anne?

Ste. Anne teaching Ste. Mary

For starters, she’s the grandmother of Jesus, and mother of Mary and her feast day is celebrated July 26.s. What groups seek her patronage? lists 28 diverse groups who beg Ste. Anne’s assistance.
  • Because she is the mother of Mary, many of the groups have to do with pregnancy, family and child-rearing. Included are childless people, grandparents, homemakers and those against sterility.
  • Miners are on the list because they prize precious metals or gems from deep within, which is likened to Mary’s womb.
  • Others — equestrians, lace makers, carpenters, old clothes dealers and broom makers — have a connection that’s less obvious to me. As do those struggling against poverty or unable to find lost articles.
  • However, Ste. Anne is not mentioned as a patroness of voyageurs. According to CatholicEncyclopedia.Info, people in France held great esteem for Ste. Anne — and likely brought that with them upon emigrating to New France.

Who is Ste. Anne de Beaupré?

From further in the online Catholic Encyclopedia, I read that early settlers built a small chapel on the Beaupré hillside in 1658, which was dedicated to Ste. Anne. A healing miracle encouraged the parishioners. Old records say that in 1712 Abbot de Breslay personally experienced Ste. Anne saving him during a snowstorm in which he broke his leg. In gratitude he built a chapel dedicated to her. Later a church was built, and then replaced in 1876 by an impressive stone cathedral. Which is still in use.

By the way, did you ask (as did one of my proofreaders): Why the extra letter “e” on Ste. Anne?

It’s because the French language has feminine and masculine forms of nouns. “Ste.” is the feminine spelling and “St.” is the masculine form. In English words don’t identify gender, we use the masculine version.

So which one of the Ste. Annes is the patroness of voyageurs?

I can see how the two Annes are connected. Both were revered by settlers as well as voyageurs. But having an incomplete understanding of this tradition, I can’t say. What do you think?

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