I was out today for my usual morning ride with the gang, and decided to pass again to a town very near me that has a special place in Brittany and France. Sainte Anne d’Auray is name after the grandmother of Jesus, mother of Mary in the bible ,the biggest religious center in Brittany and second only to Lourdes in France. Enough said.
This is the mayor’s site or mairie and has excellent photos in front page of the town, http://sainte-anne-auray.net/
The story here is long, so try to make it shorter. A farm worker named , Yvon Nicolazic,heard voices in breton language that told him “Me zo Anna mamm Mari” or in French «Je suis la mère de Marie”, which means I am the mother of Mary. This was July 25 1624, the eve of the feast of Sainte Anne. On March 7 after the call, the farm worker discover in his field in the area of Bocenno, a statue of Sainte Anne that came from an old chapel then in ruins. This event prove the authenticity of the apparitions. More than 400 years later pilgrimages happenned here, with thousands of folks, the most important was Pope John Paul II in September 20, 1996.
Everything on this town revolved around the sainte Anne, there is a memorial for the fallen Breton in WWI ,240 000 of them, showing the five parishes of Brittany in the basement or bottom floor. Inmense. There is the esplanade where Pope John Paul II made his presentation in 1996, statues of the virgen sainte Anne in the forest ,gardens, in front of the basilica. A huge stair or holy stair built in 1662 where her 28 steps were taken as a wish and penitence for her. There are monasteries all around you, welcome center, stores selling religious items but with much calm.
And ,there is a statue call >Sainte Anne et les marins< in memory of mariners or fisherman who have a strong devotion to the sainte. The statue with the child enfant Jesus weights 12.50 ton, and high of 5.64 meters, done with 3 blocks of granite stone from Kersanton is magnificent. There is a chapel of the Immaculate Conception tothe east of cloister built in 1890. To the east of the chapel you will find the place where Yvon Nicolazic the farmer who had the visions was born, now the house dates from 1907. The statue in front of basilica of Sainte Anne looking over a fountain is the only one representing Mary showing her mother (Ste Anne) . The others show her showing the heavens as was the mision “Sainte Anne, Mère de Marie, conduis-nous vers Jésus”. or Saint Anne, mother of Mary, guide us towards Jesus.
And of course, there is the basilica itself ,from a small chapel in 1625 done by Nicolazic ,the new one was finished in 1872 ,now keeping his tomb inside. Who is Sainte Anne ,really, well again to remind us all. Sainte Anne (Keranna in Breton) is the wife of Saint Joachim, mother of the Virgin Mary , grandmother of Jesus. She was a juif having lived in Sephoris, near Nazareth in Galilee,then Jerusalem in Judea. The biggest Breton Pardon come in her dates July 25 and 26. The official webpage for the basilica and all, is at http://www.sainteanne-sanctuaire.com/
Nearby there are two important places dear to Breton history too,and very close to my house. Te first is the monument statue to the Count of Chambord, at its four faces it has the two saint patrons of France and Paris; Sainte Jeanne d’Arc in front and Sainte Geneviève in the back, as well as the two great heroes of the French chevalry, Bayard to the left and Du Guesclin to the right, all four standing. This is in honor of the support the count of Chambord had for Brittany. You can his official site in French here, http://www.comtedechambord.fr/homme_memorial.php the statue is on the entrance to Sainte Anne d’Auray on the way out to the commmune of Brech.
And the site where the Chouans , farmers of Brittany fought the French revolution and were executed in 1795 (the remains are now at the Chartreuse d’Auray), here stays a site of rememberance, for it cause a break that still is talk about in this area by the elders. Its call the Champs des Martyrs or heroes field. A chapel was built in 1829 still there amongst the trees. With the insignias in Latin , “Hic Cecide runt” (or here they fell) ,and “In Memoria Eterna Erunt Justi” (in the eternal memory, they will be right). It is on the way from Sainte Anne d’Auray to Brech turn on the signs and they will guide you into the departmental roads here. This site in French on heritage tells very well and has some nice photos of it;, http://www.petit-patrimoine.com/fiche-petit-patrimoine.php?id_pp=56023_6
Of course, we had lunch in our favorite creperie in town, creperie Les Ajoncs, rue de Vannes right on the side of the basilica on the road to Vannes,cant missed it. Family affaires ,name to best creperies n Brittany, no webpage at the Auray t ourist office, http://www.auray-tourisme.com/creperie-les-ajoncs/ste-anne-d-auray/tabid/8269/offreid/b596fda7-cbb7-4486-bc22-2282ca67bcfb/detail.aspx
A wonderful place full of history and faith, nice only about 10 kms from my house. Here are some photos. Cheers