Saint Anne Relics miraculously discovered

July 26th is the feast of Saint Anne, the mother of the Virgin Mary. I would like to share a story with you that I read about the relics of St. Anne in Apt, France on Catholic Tradition, and photographs I took this past week at the Cathedral of Saint Anne in Apt, France.

Saint Anne Reliquary - Apt, FranceReliquary of Saint Anne in the Cathedral of Saint Anne, Apt, France

I am presently in Provence with a group for the Saint Mary Magdalene Novena Pilgrimage. We are spending 7 days visiting the towns where Mary Magdalene and her companions lived, preached and died after their boat landed on the coast of Gaul in 47 AD. The town of Apt (with the relics of Saint Anne) is a little north of the places we will go, but I wanted for you to see where Apt is in case you want to go there one day. It is about a 2 hour drive from our villa in St. Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume.

MAP - Provence - with APT

According to a most ancient and uninterrupted tradition, the body of St. Anne was carried to Gaul [a province of the Roman empire which included what are now the countries of France and upper Italy] by the same vessel which carried Lazarus, Martha and Mary Magdalene there. During the first century of the Christian era, these friends of Our Lord were banished from Palestine because of their faith. From their hands St. Anne’s precious remains were taken for safekeeping to the city of Apta Julia, which in our own times is the city of Apt, France. In those stormy days of persecution, it was necessary to hide the relics of the Martyrs and Saints.

Consequently, the body of St. Anne was buried in an underground church or crypt. The martyrology of Apt, one of the most ancient in existence, mentions this fact.

The first bishop of Apta Julia, St. Auspicius, who died before 118, took further precautions to guard this holy treasure from desecration and had the body buried still deeper in the subterranean chapel. All approach to it was carefully concealed till persecutions and invasions should have ceased. For centuries, the country was repeatedly overrun by hordes of barbarians, and it was only natural that during these agitated years the precise spot where St. Auspicius had carefully hidden his treasure became lost in obscurity.

After Charlemagne’s decisive victory over the Saracens at the close of the eighth century, peace and security returned to Gaul. It was then that the people began to restore and rebuild the holy places destroyed or desecrated by the invaders. Priests and bishops of Apta Julia began to seek for the exact Spot in the deep crypt where St. Auspicius had hidden and walled up the sarcophagus of St. Anne.

CharlemagneCharlemagne (2 April 742 – 28 January 814), also known as Charles the Great or Charles I, was the King of the Franks from 768, the King of Italy from 774, the first Holy Roman Emperor, and the first emperor in western Europe since the collapse of the Western Roman Empire three centuries earlier.

Charlemagne's Empire

Charlemagne’s first care on his arrival at Apt was to have the cathedral reconsecrated. This took place during the Easter solemnities, in the presence of an enormous crowd of nobles, clergy and people. But there was one cause of sadness amid all the rejoicing, namely, that every effort to find the remains of St. Anne had proved fruitless. A miracle, however, was to lead to the discovery of her resting place, as is related by Charlemagne in a letter to Pope Adrian I.

Among the young nobles who accompanied their parents on this occasion was John, a lad of fourteen, the son of Baron Casanova, deaf, dumb and blind from birth. People near the boy in the sanctuary remarked that during the services he was carried away by some overpowering emotion. With rapt and upturned face he seemed to be listening to voices from above. Presently, he moved toward the high altar, struck with his staff the steps leading up to it and made signs that they should dig there. His persistence caused considerable disturbance amid the solemn rites, but neither the clergy nor the royal guards could quiet or restrain the youth.

Saint Anne Cathedral - Apt, FranceSaint Anne Cathedral with Crypt of Saint Anne below, opened up in the middle of the stairs exactly where the deaf, dumb and blind boy struck the steps.

Charlemagne was deeply impressed. After Mass, he commanded that the excavation desired by the boy should be made. The altar steps were removed and a door, closed up with huge stones, was revealed. This was the door of the ancient crypt in which St. Auspicius had been accustomed to celebrate the holy Mysteries and to feed his flock with the Bread of Life. Its size and adornments reminded one of the Roman catacombs.

Saint Anne Ancient Crypt - Apt, FranceSt. Auspicius, first bishop of Apta Julia, celebrated the Holy Mass here in the 1st century. St. Auspicius was the one to hide the relics of Saint Anne.

No sooner had this door been opened and the flight of steps leading down from it disclosed than the blind boy rushed forward, as if his eyes had been suddenly opened, and led the way into this underground church. Charlemagne now held the boy’s hand and gave orders to keep back the excited multitude.

.Flight of Steps leading to Saint Anne Relics - Apt, FranceFlight of steps leads down to a long narrow corridor

Corridor leading to Saint Anne relics - Apt, FranceThe long narrow corridor

John made signs that they should search farther, and he struck the wall of the crypt, indicating that what they sought lay beyond. When the wall was broken down, another and lower crypt was discovered at the end of a long and narrow corridor. As they came in view of this crypt, a bright light flashed upon the Emperor and his assistants. They beheld, in front of a walled recess, a burning lamp, which flooded the place with unearthly splendor. No sooner, however, had the Emperor and his cortege entered this place, than the lamp went out.

PrintCrypt of Saint Anne with her sarcophagus

But, more wonderful still, at that very moment the blind boy could see, speak and hear. “The body of Saint Anne, mother of the Virgin Mary, Mother of God, is in yonder recess,” were his first words.

The awe-stricken Emperor and his followers, at first dumb with amazement, gave vent to their emotion in words of praise and thanksgiving. The walled recess was thrown open, a sweet fragrance like that of oriental balm filled the air, and a casket of cypress wood was discovered containing the body of St. Anne wrapped round and round with folds of precious cloth. On the casket was the inscription: “Here lies the body of Blessed Anne, mother of the Virgin Mary.” Charlemagne, with all those present, venerated the sacred deposit thus brought to light. Afterward he had an exact narrative of the discovery drawn up by one of his notaries and a copy sent to the Pope with the royal letter. This letter and the Pope’s answer still exist. One day I will try to get copies of both.

Saint Anne Sarcophagus - Apt, FranceThe sarcophagus of Saint Anne, the mother of the Blessed Mother

How lucky were we, after visiting the crypt on the July 26th feast day, to have the parish priest unlock the doors to the side chapel and the doors on the altar containing Saint Anne Relics just as we were getting ready to leave the church. In this side chapel is where they keep the reliquary of Saint Anne (top row center). This gave me the opportunity to get up close and photograph the reliquary.

Saint Anne Cathedral Side Chapel - Apt, FranceSaint Anne Cathedral side chapel where the reliquary of Saint  Anne (top row center) is kept with others locked behind an iron grate.

Saint Anne Reliquary - Apt, FranceSaint Anne Reliquary – mother of the Blessed Mother

The parish priest came to celebrate the evening feast day Mass (July 26th) in the side chapel where the relics of Saint Anne are kept.

Saint Anne Feast Day Mass 2016 - Apt, FranceSaint Anne’s feast day Mass – July 26, 2016

The miraculous discovery at once made the Cathedral of Apt the center of attraction for Christian pilgrims from every part of Gaul. In the wars which followed the reign of Charlemagne down to our own times, the clergy and people of Apt have watched with never failing love over the sacred treasure which is the glory of their city. Travelers visiting the venerable Cathedral of St. Auspicius will find piles of ex votos, the indisputable testimonies during eleven centuries of the wonders wrought there by Christ at the intercession of His sainted Grandmother. The chief cities of Gaul hastened to solicit from the church of Apta Julia portions of the hallowed body thus miraculously discovered. Fragments detached from the head found their way to various places through the favor of sovereigns or powerful prelates, but the greatest portion of St. Anne’s sacred body still reposes in Apt.

Cathedral of Saint Anne - Apt, FranceCathédrale de Sainte-Anne d’Apt.

Vienna, Austria, possesses the right hand of St. Anne, which is devoutly venerated in the beautiful church which bears her name.

An arm of the Saint was solicited and obtained by the Popes and placed under the care of the Benedictine monks in the magnificent monastery church of St. Paul-Outside-the-Walls in Rome. In May, 1960, the Benedictines gave the forearm to the Shrine of St. Anne de Beaupré in Canada.

In the Cathedral of Bologna, Italy, a large portion of the Saint’s head is venerated.

8 Responses to “Saint Anne Relics miraculously discovered”

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  1. Dear Paula,
    Thank you so much for writing and sending this beautiful article!!! I had heard this information before but I’d never seen pictures of Apt. I am a great lover of both St. Anne and St. Mary Magdalene and I believe there is a story to tell about the connection between France as eldest daughter of the Church, St. Mary Magdalene-eldest daughter of the Church, and the devotions to the Immaculate Conception and the Sacred Heart which both came out of France. Did you notice that St. Mary Magdalene, who was present when the Heart of Jesus was opened, came to France in 47 and that St. Margaret Mary was born on July 22, 1947? Also did you ever consider that St. Anne, mother of the Immaculate Conception, was buried in the country where that mystery would be clarified at Rue de Bac in 1830 and at Lourdes in 1858? Here is my recent post on St. Mary Magdalene. http://deadphilosopherssociety.com/in-memory-of-her-6746/God bless you!

    Sister Mary Rose Reddy, DMML

  2. Francis Porter says:

    Thanks you for your wonderful website. The Arc of the Covenant disappeared ~ 586 BC. The base of
    Mt. Tabor (Church of the Transfiguration) is 420 meters or 1378 feet above sea level. The time of 4:20 AM is the time of Our Lord’s Resurrection. Emperor Charlemagne built a Church in Apt, France in 792 AD in honor of St. Anne. From 586 BC to 792 AD was 1378 years. Mt. Tabor height is 575 meters or 1886 feet above sea level.
    The Cathedral of St John the Baptist (Shroud of Turin) in Turin, Italy is 245 meters above sea level. The time of 2:45 AM is the time of Our Blessed Mother’s Mary birth. The belief is that the Arc of the Covenant is in Ethiopia at a height of 6991 feet (Church of St Mary Zion) or 2131 meters above sea level. The difference between 2131 meters and 245 meters is 1886.

  3. I was totally blown away by this wonderful story of that young boy who led the clergy to the actual resting place of St. Anne. Praise God that he would allow this most beautiful discovery. Please pray for me that I
    may always remember this wonderful day in my remaining days of life on this earth that I was fortunate enough to see the wonderful pictures in full color the Tomb of St. Anne.
    God Bless always this wonderous site and all the people involved in securing and maintaining this most beautiful chapel.
    Thank you Jesus for helping to bring me this most beautiful story of the Mother of your most dear Mother, The Blessed Virgin Mary.
    Sincerely in Jesus and Mary always
    Robert

  4. Patrick John Sheehan says:

    Wonderful! Thank you for sharing! I,too, am a client of Saint Anne! I just finished reading this miracle story in the little TAN booklet “Good Saint Anne.” To find this photo illustrated version of the story was a little miracle itself! Pax tibi!

  5. Ariel Catada San Diego says:

    I was deeply moved and inspired especially at difficult and struggling times we have to discover miracles happened in our midst… My heart was full of happiness and peace dwells within me knowing our Lord is touching us in His own special way! Thank you so much for sharing this amazing experience with us, “Ingatan at pagpalain po kayo ng Panginoon! Glory to God, Glory to Christ Jesus!

  6. Rolando P. Bartolome says:

    I was deeply amazed about the story of St. Anne our grandmother. Me, too is an avid devotee of St. Anne. She is our patroness here in our town The National Shrine and Parish of St. Anne in Hagonoy, Bulacan, Philippines. She is always be our INANG (mother) and comfortress. Thanks for the story. Godspeed!!! God loves Us!!!!

  7. Daren says:

    It was 29 of July, a Saturday my regular duty. While browsing my FB i was caught my attention learning and knowing About Saint Anne that she was the grandmother of our Christ our Lord Jesus and the Mother of Mother Mary.

    I must say I was blessed and comfort by Mother Saint Anne. After reading her Life story❤️AMEN

  8. JG says:

    Saint Anne, Grandmother of Jesus, Mother of Mama Mary, Pray for us. Amen

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