Hundreds Find Spiritual Renewal at St. Anne Novena

After 132 years, the devotion to St. Anne continues at the nation’s original shrine, located in St. Anne, Illinois.

Viatorians have run the historic St. Anne Church since 1920 and as a result, they have continued the tradition started by its French Canadian founders, of holding a novena to the mother of Mary, for nine days leading up to her feast day on July 26.

More than 600 worshippers converged on the church campus — including buses from Whiting, IN and Rockford, IL — in search of spiritual enrichment and St. Anne’s intercession.

“This is a place of grace, where many have found peace and healing,” said Fr. James Fanale, CSV, who was the main celebrant at an outdoor Mass of anointing.

“What a wonderful intercession she is for all us who have come to St. Anne, with the sense that she knows just where we are in our lives,” Fr. Fanale added. “With the tender brush of her hand, we are her much loved children.”

Those that came found comfort in lighting candles under St. Anne’s watchful eye, as well as collecting water that flowed over one of her sacred medals. They purchased images of St. Anne as well as bunches of gladiolas grown in nearby farms.

But it was the anointing Mass, held on St. Anne’s feast day and in the presence of her shrine, that drew the faithful. They solemnly waited in lines to be anointed by the many Viatorian and diocesan priests on hand, before walking in procession — behind her relic — saying the rosary.

“This place is made holy by the prayers of so many,” Fr. Fanale added, “for so many years.”