Saint Anne Shrine
16 Church Street | Fiskdale (Sturbridge), MA 01518
508 347 7338 | email@example.com | saintanneshrine.org
The most prized possesion of Saint Anne Shrine in Fiskdale is the relic of Saint Anne. Each day, many people from Fiskdale and beyond come to revently kiss or touch the relic. Countless pilgrims hope that this solemn moment of veneration will bring the answer to their fervent petitions. How did this priceless fragment of Saint Anne's body come to find a resting place in Fiskdale?
Therein lies a fascinating story which reaches back to the earliest days of Christianity. Christian tradition states that after death of our Lord, Mary Magdalen and her brother Lazarus, and a small Christians left Palestine and landed on the shores of Provence in France. It was only natural that they should take with them some of relic of their faith, some cherished memorial of their native land. Among these precious possessions was the entire body of Saint Anne. It is thus that the town of Apt in France became the depository of the remains of Anne, the mother of Mary.
However, those were stormy days and the barbarians ruthlessly persecuted the Christians. It was necessary to hide the relics of the holy martyrs and saints to save them from desecratin. Consequently from the start, the body of Saint Anne was buried in an underground church or crypt. As the persecutions grew worse, further precautions were necessary. Saint Auspicius, the first Bishop of Apt, who died before 118 A.D., had the body buried still deeper in the subterranean chapel. All approaches to the tomb were carefully concealed till the invasions ceased. For centuries, the country was again and again overrun by the armies of the persecutors. It is not surprising then, that the precise spot where Saint Auspicius had hidden his dearest treasure became lost in obscuity.
Finally in the year 792 the hiding place was miraculously revealed. The unusual circumstances of this memorable event are described in the lessons of the special Office in Roman Breviary granted by the Pope to the Diocese of Apt: "On Easter Sunday, 792, Emperor Charlemagne stopped at Apt. It was the day after a victory he won over the Saracens, that assured peace in the province of Apt. The infidels had desecrated the Church but Charlemagne rendered it fit for worship. During the imposing ceremonies of reconsecration, in the presence of a great crowd of faithful, Our Lord revealed by a miracle of Divine Powerthe precious presence of the body of Saint Anne. During the celebration a young man, blind, deaf and dumb from birth, walked up to the altar rail, led by an unseen hand, and there made signs to the crowd to dig under the flagstone on which he stood. The emperor ordered that the work be done. The flagstone was raised and the digging continued until was discovered a crypt from which escaped rays of light. The young man suddenly obtained the use of his senses and in encouraging the excavators, he cried out:'In that crypt rests the body of Saint Anne, Mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary.' A few moments later a reliquarycase was discovered, inscribed with the words: "This is the body of the Blessed Anne, Mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary.' The case was opened and a sweet perfume arose."
Charlemagne, with all present, veneratd the sacred relic thus brought to light. Afterwards he had an exact account of the discovery drawn up by one of his notaries and he sent it to Pope Adrian I. This letter still exists today. The Pope endorsed the discovery with his seal and signalture, thus giving it an official character.
As devotion to Saint Anne became more popular, small fragments of the Saint's body were distributed for veneration throughout Christendom. The Popes themselves obtained an arm which was untrusted to the care of the Benedictine monks in the magnificent church of Saint Paul Outside the Walls in Rome. It is from that fragmentthat the relic of Fiskdale was detached.
In the year 1892, Cardinal Taschereau of Quebec ask Pope Leo XIII granted the request and delegated Monsignor Marquis to bring the relic to Quebec. The prelate left Rome with a fragment of the wrist of Saint Anne, about two or three inches in length with the skin and flesh still adhering to the bone, and showing the joint near the thumb. On May 1, 1892, Monsignor Marquis arrived in New York with his treasure. The relic was temporarily deposited in the Church of St. Jean Baptiste in New York for the veneration of the faithful. It was to have remained there for only three days, but so enthusiastic was the devotion of the populace that it had to remain exposed for three weeks! Pope Leo XIII rewarded this pious zeal by allowing a small portion of the relic to be kept in the Church of St. Jean Baptiste. After this touching welcome to the new world, the relic continued its journey to Quebec. It had at last reached its permanent resting place in the Basilica of Saint Anne de Beaupre.
Shortly after this, Monsignor Marquis was approached by Father Onesime Triganne, Pastor of Notre Dame Church in Southbridge, Massachusetts, with the purpose of securing for Saint Anne's Shrine in Fiskdale, the honor of possessing a relic of Saint Anne. The request was granted. The authorities at Saint Anne de Beaupre received permission from Rome to detach a fragment from the relic and present it to the Fiskdale Shrine. It was a glorious day in 1893 when the relic arrived in Fiskdale with necessary documents from Rome and attested by the seal of Cardinal Tashereau.That is the relic which the pilgrims have the good fortune to venerate in Fiskdale, a fragment of the very hand which guided the first footsteps of Mary, Mother of God.