Sainte Anne d’Auray: Scala Sancta!

So coming back closer to home at about 5.5 miles or 9 km of my house; in the town of Sainte Anne d’Auray in my beautiful Morbihan, and my lovely Bretagne and of course my belle France. I have written before of the whole complex but this one always attracted my attention and would like to expand a bit on it. Thanks for reading it.

Here at Sainte Anne d’Auray is located the Basilica minor of Sainte Anne. She is the Patron Saint of Bretagne/Brittany. In the Basilica she is remembered dearly and very much by all Bretons. As the most Catholic of the regions of France.

You will see the Scala Sancta or escalier sacré or Holy Stairs. This monument was built in 1662 by the Carmelite Fathers. Currently located in the area of the spine, the Scala Sancta was until 1870 the front porch of the Basilica and thus defining the place reserved for prayer. And this is what I like to expand on.

Sainte Anne d auray scala sancta stairs jul17

However, first a bit on the Basilica please. The Basilica of Sainte-Anne-d’Auray  (see post) is a minor basilica that receives many visitors because the sanctuary of Sainte-Anne-d’Auray is the most important place of pilgrimage in Brittany, welcoming more than 800,000 visitors a year, the majority of whom are pilgrims. Each year, 20 to 30,000 pilgrims attend Saint Anne’s pardon on July 26,(today and see later as I was there!), which ranks third among French pilgrimages after the sanctuary of Lourdes and the Basilica of Sainte-Thérèse de Lisieux.

Ste Anne d Auray

sainte anne d auray

The Scala Sancta is in the Christian tradition, the staircase of the palace or Praetorium of Jerusalem climbed by Jesus Christ during his Passion (during his Judgment by Pontius Pilate) to reach the Praetorium of Pontius Pilate who decided on his crucifixion. Tradition has it that pilgrims climb its steps on their knees, praying and meditating on the Passion of the Lord.

It was also in 1627 that the Reformed Carmelites were in charge of the pilgrimage and completed the Chapel of Sainte-Anne-d’Auray. From that time to the present day, pilgrims have never stopped coming in great numbers. In 1870, the Scala Sancta was dismantled, stone by stone, and transferred to the bottom of the field of the Thorn, facing the Basilica.

Sainte Anne d Auray

It is two staircases that meet in the middle, where stands out like a small chapel: that’s it! The object of the ritual is to climb the stairs on your knees as a sign of penance, reciting the Rosary or meditating on the mysteries of the Passion of Our Lord. Yet religion still permeates the town. Every summer, the villagers commemorate Yvon Nicolazic during a great sound and light show given under the trees. Yvon… Who? It was this Breton peasant who, in 1623, would have seen the mother of the Virgin Mary appear to him and ordered him to build a chapel for her.

sainte anne d auray

A pardon means, according to a typically Breton expression, a feast, originally linked to a penitential process, in honor of the saints in churches and chapels. It usually includes a mass and an outdoor procession to a sacred place.

In the Christian religion, Anne is the wife of Joachim, mother of the Virgin Mary, and therefore, maternal grandmother of Jesus. She is notably the Patron Saint of cabinetmakers. In 1914, Pope Pius X officially declared her Patron of Brittany, along with Saint Yves. She is nicknamed Mamm gozh ar Vretoned,(Breton language) that is to say the grandmother of the Bretons. To this day, Sainte-Anne-d´Auray is the only place of appearance of Saint Anne in the world.

sainte anne d auray

Today’s pardon has the following activities on the official Basilica of Sainte Anne webpage in French: Basilica of Sainte Anne on the pardon of 26 July 2020

Hope you enjoy this most sacre place but also of wonderful history of Bretagne and France as well as gorgeous architecture. A place for all and a  must to see if not the Pardon ,the Basilica. Hope it helps you enjoy it as we do.

And remember, happy travels, good health,and many cheers to all!!!

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