Quebec Studies

Sainte Anne as Symbol of Literacy in Quebec Culture

Quebec Studies (2000), 30, (1), 70–78.

Abstract

70 Sainte Anne as Symbol of Literacy in Quebec Culture By Kathleen Rochefort Murray In visiting the churches of Quebec, one can hardly avoid an encounter with Ste. Anne. Undeniably, the mother of Mary and the grandmother of the Infant Jesus is one of the most popular and important saints throughout the province. Beyond that, she is also considered to be a powerful member of the divine com­ munity, responsible for more than fifty miracles in Quebec alone. Of these, thirty-four were healing miracles and twenty were sea rescues (Cliche 1988). When one considers that the first of these miracles goes back to 1658 during the construction of the original wooden church at Beaupré, when it was reported that a workman named Louis Guimont was cured of lumbago, one realizes that the history of Ste. Anne in Quebec is almost as old as the settlement itself. Through the many societies dedicated to Ste. Anne, such as the Ladies of Ste. Anne and the Congregation of Ste. Anne, devotion to Anne spread throughout the province, and indeed, throughout Canada. The purpose of this research is to explore the iconographie program of Ste. Anne in Quebec and to ask what this devotion to Ste. Anne tells us about the nature of the Québécois people, partic­ ularly in light of Lord Durham's report. Although the center of devotion to Ste. Anne in Quebec is the basilica at Beaupré, Ste. Anne is found throughout the entire province. Most often, Anne is seen in scenes described as the Education of the Virgin. In fact, most of the churches in Quebec have some representation of this theme in painting, sculpture or stained glass. In order to understand the uniqueness of this iconographie pro­ gram, it is necessary first to examine, if only briefly, the history of the devotion to Ste. Anne and, second, the ways in which Anne is more generally represented. Anne is not as popular a saint outside of Quebec as she is within the province. In fact, many people are not even sure who she is. As one might expect, however, she is found in France, notably in the northwest at the shrine of Ste. Anne d'Auray, another major pilgrimage site devoted to Ste. Anne. Many Québécois can trace their ancestry back to those early settlers who came from the areas of Brittany and Normandy, and who brought with them their already strong attachment to Ste. Anne (Simard 84). This devotional attachment goes back to the thirteenth century, according to Simard, who says that, "le culte et l'i­ conographie de ce thème sont apparus dès le XIII siècle pour ne devenir popu­ laires qu'au XV siècle" (Simard 40-41). This time frame is significant because it was soon after the height of the popularity of the cult devoted to Ste. Anne developed in 16th-century France that the French started to arrive in Canada, bringing with them their beliefs and their devotions. Anne was especially important because of her role as patroness to the seafaring. In Quebec, the settlers expressed their devotion to Anne through the visual arts, especially painting and sculpture, but instead of selecting a model of Anne as patroness of seafaring, they chose to represent her in her role as the educatrix. Certainly there are representations of Anne as patroness of seafaring but they are not nearly as numerous as the ones that show her educating the Virgin. John Porter mentions the preponderance of images of the Education of the Virgin and notes that many people who came as pilgrims to Ste. Anne de Beaupré ordered a Québec Studies, Volume 30, Fall/Winter 2000

Access Token
£25.00

Adams, Doug, and Apostolos-Cappadona, Diane. "Art as Religious Studies: Insights into the Judeo-Christian Traditions." Art as Religious Studies, ed. Doug Adams and Diane Apostolos-Cappadona. New York: Crossroad, 1987. 3-11. Art as Religious Studies 3 11 Google Scholar

Bourassa, Henri. "The French Language and the Future of Our Race." French-Canadian Nationalism; An Anthology, ed. Ramsay Cook. Toronto: Macmillan, 1969. 130. French-Canadian Nationalism; An Anthology 130 Google Scholar

Cliche, Marie-Aimée. Les Pratiques de Dévotion en Nouvelle-France. Quebec: PU Laval, 1988. 33-42. Les Pratiques de Dévotion en Nouvelle-France 33 42 Google Scholar

Collectif Clio. L'Histoire des femmes au Québec depuis quatre siècles. Québec: Le Jour, 1992. L'Histoire des femmes au Québec depuis quatre siècles Google Scholar

Craig, Gerald, ed. Lord Durham's Report. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, Carleton Library, 1963. Google Scholar

Dawson, Nora. "La Vie Traditionnelle à Saint-Pierre." Les Archives de Folklore. 8. Québec: PU Laval, 1960. Les Archives de Folklore. 8 Google Scholar

Dillenberger, Jane. "Reflections on the Field of Religion and the Visual Arts." Art as Religious Studies, eds. Doug Adams and Diane Apostolos-Cappadona. New York: Crossroad, 1987. 12-25. Religious Studies 12 25 Google Scholar

Ferguson, George. Signs and Symbols In Christian Art. London: Oxford UP, 19/54. Signs and Symbols In Christian Art Google Scholar

Green, Mary Jean. "The ‘Literary Feminist’ and the Fight for Women's Writing in Quebec." Revue d'études canadiennes 21.1 (1986): 128-43. The ‘Literary Feminist’ and the Fight for Women's Writing in Quebec Revue d'études canadiennes 21 128 43 Google Scholar

Jameson, Anna. Legends of the Madonna, as Represented in the Fine Arts. London: Longmans, Green and Co, 1890. Legends of the Madonna, as Represented in the Fine Arts Google Scholar

Lucas, C. P. Lord Durham's Report on the Affairs of British North America, vol. II. Oxford, 1912. Google Scholar

McDannell, Colleen. Material Christianity. New Haven: Yale UP, 1995. Material Christianity Google Scholar

Metford, J. C. J. Dictionary of Christian Lore and Legend. London: Thames and Hudson, 1983. Dictionary of Christian Lore and Legend Google Scholar

Morgan, Tom. Saints: A Visual Almanac of the Virtuous, Pure, Praiseworthy, and Good. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1994. Saints: A Visual Almanac of the Virtuous, Pure, Praiseworthy, and Good Google Scholar

Musée du Québec. Le Grand Héritage: L'Église Catholique et les Arts au Québec. Québec: Gouvernement du Québec, 1984. Le Grand Héritage: L'Église Catholique et les Arts au Québec Google Scholar

Porter, John R., and Bélisle, Jean. La Sculpture ancienne au Québec. Montréal: Éditions de l'Homme, 1986. La Sculpture ancienne au Québec Google Scholar

Sautman, Francesca. "Saint Anne in Folk Tradition." Interpreting Cultural Symbols: Saint Anne in the Late Medieval Society, ed. Kathleen Ashley and Pamela Sheingorn. London: U Georgia P, 1990. 81-85. Interpreting Cultural Symbols: Saint Anne in the Late Medieval Society 81 85 Google Scholar

Simard, Jean. Une Iconographie du Clergé Français au XVII Siècle. Québec: PU Laval, 1976. Une Iconographie du Clergé Français au XVII Siècle Google Scholar

If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Details

Author details

Murray, Kathleen