Part 1: Edel
Part 2: Radek
You know that St. Anne is the patroness of the blog, and I’ve leaned on her intercession for these past few years for Sancta Nomina — that I do God’s will through it, that marriages and families are blessed by the beautiful names of our faith that we discuss here, and for the completion and acceptance of my book for publication (when I was writing it) and that it will reach those who need it (now that it’s here!) — and also for all of you! I’m always asking her to intercede for you all, and myself as well, and I’ve felt her grandmotherly love many many times.
I started the blog on June 27, 2014, and each year since then at the end of June or beginning of July, my husband and boys and I have taken a mini pilgrimage to a St. Anne Shrine within driving (and my own sanity’s) distance to thank her for her intercession and pray for you all. Year 1 was Isle la Motte, year 2 was Sturbridge, MA, year 3 was Scranton, PA, and last year was Waterbury, CT.
(As a side thought, looking through these old posts, it’s amazing to me to see our progression as a family from one for whom traveling was the worst thing imaginable (year 1) to one for whom it’s getting to be a not-terrible thing to do (currently). Young families, take note! It gets easier!)
Next week marks five years since I started Sancta Nomina (!!!!!), so I’d already had a vague idea of trying to do something a bit bigger pilgrimage-wise this year — the St. Anne de Beaupre Shrine in Canada was one of my ideas, which would have been quite a thing for us (probably too much, really) — when my sister got engaged and she and her fiance were delighted to fulfill my sister’s lifelong dream of getting married in Ireland, in the town where my grandfather was born and raised, in the cathedral where he’d been baptized and had been an altar boy. I initially looked into whether or not we could swing all of us going — me, hubby, and all the boys — and quickly decided this was pretty far past impossible. But I could go (and really should, if possible, as I was a bridesmaid), and where I go the baby goes, and I brought my oldest to help (and he got to be the altar boy at the wedding!), and when making our plans I had the idea of checking to see if there could possibly be a St. Anne church anywhere near where we were staying.
Guys. There are two (TWO) (2!) St. Anne churches near where we were staying!
I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. That St. Anne. ❤ ❤ ❤
The Cathedral in Cork City, which is locally known as North Cathedral and is just a little over 3km from our hotel, has as its official name (prepared to be blown away): The Cathedral of St. Mary & St. Anne.
But wait! Turns out, there’s a SECOND church in Cork dedicated to St. Anne! The Church of Ireland’s (Anglican) Church of St. Anne, Shandon (with its famous bells) is right down the road and within sight of St. Mary and St. Anne’s!
I mean. Could St. Anne (and her holy baby girl) be talking any more directly to me??
St. Mary and St. Anne’s Cathedral is, as it says on its web site, “‘the Mother Church of the Dioceses of Cork and Ross’ and was dedicated in 1808, (building had begun in 1799). It is the fourth church of this parish since, at least, 1306. The construction of the Cathedral was planned and overseen by Bishop Francis Moylan (Bishop of Cork 1787-1815).”
My boys and I were only going to be in Ireland for three full days (half of one of those days was traveling from the airport to the hotel, and we were there for half of a fourth day, that was traveling from the hotel to the airport), and most of our time there was booked with wedding business, but until 3:00 on the day before the wedding we were free to do as we liked, so I planned our pilgrimage to the Cathedral for that day.
Being that I was trying to keep the baby on our home schedule timezone-wise, we slept in until 10:30am or so on that Friday, and set off from the hotel around 11. I figured we had to be back at the hotel by 3 to get ready for the rehearsal, and we were walking to the Cathedral and back (with a stop for lunch with my brothers, sister-in-law, and priest friend, as well as to find Turkish Delight, at the request of one of my boys at home), so we had to be purposeful in our walking to stay on track. I used Google maps on my phone and looked such the tourist, constantly checking my phone to see where to go next.
My goals for my St. Anne pilgrimages are always modest, given that traveling is already such an opportunity to offer up suffering. 😀 Usually I hope to go to Mass at the Shrine, take pictures to show all of you, and get to the gift shop. But for this trip, I scaled back my expectations even more. I would have loved to have gotten to Mass, but it was too early for us, and I saw something about a gift shop on its web site, but didn’t see signs for it while we were there, so I didn’t worry about it. I was just so thrilled when we finally arrived at the Cathedral — I felt like, “We did it! We’re here!” The photos I posted on Instagram two weeks ago were the major ones, but I’m going to post some more tonight.
My boys and I (the baby was sleeping for a good deal of our four-hour walk!) tried to take our time inside the Cathedral, but it wasn’t easy — I was antsy about getting back to the hotel in time, and there were professional cleaners doing something loud on the altar while we were there. I was sorry to see that the interior was quite modern (their web site says, “The Neo- Gothic originals and the later extensions lacked harmony until the 1996 reordering and renovation. The vision of architect Richard Hurley drew the Sanctuary into the body of the Cathedral and brings congregation around three sides of the altar”), as I love a good old European cathedral; I was even sorrier to see that the tabernacle had been removed to a side chapel. Also, the only statue of St. Anne that I could find was the one in the front parking lot, and the one picture I was able to get of it was partially obscured by cars.
But no matter! I made a donation to the restoration fund in honor of all of you (with a prayer that it would be well used), and fairly clicked my heels as we left — I was so pleased to have visited a St. Anne shrine in Ireland in commemoration of Sancta Nomina’s fifth year!
St. Anne’s, Shandon was just down the road, so we walked quickly there on our way back, though I was eyeing our time and took only a minute to take a photo from the road. I love that Anglicans love St. Anne too. ❤
All in all, a memorable St. Anne’s pilgrimage to celebrate five years in this little corner of the internet, and to celebrate five years with you all!
My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!