This post is long overdue and will do not justice to the beauty that was our trip to Quebec, but I will try! We had been longing to go back to Quebec since our initial pilgrimage in 2013, but there just hasn't been an ideal time until now. We lovelovelove Canada and try to go once a year (last year we went for our honeymoon). We were unsure if this trip was going to happen because finances are a bit tight, but we felt at peace with going and ta-daaaaa the Lord provided in many ways this month. God is good. We started the drive up Friday evening and stopped for the night in Stowe, VT (stayed at the Stowe Inn with a groupon - so charming!). It broke up the long drive which was great, and we had a very relaxing trip up Saturday morning through the wonderful greenery and mountains of Northern New England. We crossed the border with no issues (not that there would be...it just always makes me nervous) and there we were!
The weekend was on and off with the weather - rainy then sunny then cool then rainy. But it didn't really matter to us. We spent good quality time at St. Joseph's Oratory - and gosh, the second we stepped foot back in there it was a wave of peace. Walking through the Votive Chapel is an experience. There are several different statues of St. Joseph above different stations of votive candles - each with a different title of his (Protector of our Church, Consoler of the Afflicted, Pure in Heart, Patron of Families, Patron of the Sick & Dying, Terror of Demons, Model of Workers). Needless to say, there were many prayers to be prayed and many offerings to be made. We spent much time off and on in this Chapel.
We also were able to spend some beautiful time in prayer in Brother Andre's Chapel. Brother Andre (now Saint Andre) was the one who had the Oratory built in honor of Saint Joseph; a very humble man and being in his chapel (alone, nonetheless) was a moving experience. It's probably where I received the most consolation of the weekend.
There's so much that could be said about the Oratory, but...just go. Just go and see it for yourself. This trip we were fortunate enough to also visit the Shrine of St. Anne de Beaupre just outside Quebec City. I had been wanting to visit this shrine for quite some time, but even I had no clue what was in store for me. Driving along the St. Lawrence river (delightful!), we pulled into the town of Ste. Anne-de-Beapre and soon saw what had to be the Shrine. It's amazing - just off the main road being all stunning and what not!
This Church took my breath away. Everything about it. Whoever built this Church had a true devotion to St. Anne. There is just so much detail, so much complexity, and it all is weaved together so effortlessly in this magnificent structure. The whole thing was a treat, but I was especially fond of the little side chapel holding a RELIC OF ST. ANNE (bone of her arm!). I mean, no big deal. After Mass (which we understood very little of, but being Catholic and all it's usually fine since it's all the same), the Priest came over to give us more details about the Shrine. He talked of the miracles he's been present for that have occurred in front of the relic, and my goodness...it's unbelievable (but also believable!). We were so grateful for our conversation with him; it helped us to appreciate even more about the Shrine that would have gone unnoticed by little old me!
There was also the outside areas which were so simple yet so incredible. There is one particular chapel that is host to a number of relics of the holy land - it has 28 stairs which pilgrims are meant to climb on their knees - each step in reparation for Christ's passion (and many of the steps have the relics built into them)...uhhhhh-mazing. To sum it up, the short time we had at St. Anne's was powerful. We were able to pray at the foot of her statue (said to be the place of many miracles) with the petitions weighing most on our hearts.
The rest of the trip was more exploring Montreal and Quebec City. We had already seen most of Montreal that we enjoy - there are lovely parts (like Old Montreal, ohhhhh I love it), but there are also typical city parts...that I don't particularly care for. Quebec City, though. Lurv it. Such charm. Such cuteness. The old city is huge and it is a feast for the eyes! Unfortunately, it was super rainy when we were there, but I still fell in love. And the Chateau Frontenac - ahhhhh the famous hotel that I read about in high school french class! It was a joy seeing it in person. Kevin and I decided that the next time we visit (which we will), we will reverse our itinerary and stay in Quebec City with a day trip to Montreal & the Oratory.
I hope to put together a mini Catholic Canadian travel guide soon (Kevin's very encouraging of doing that) for all those dyyyyyying to visit. I hope I've sold everyone enough on this delightful province!