Ellen, Laura, and Danielle are the lucky ladies who have won the St. Anne chaplets from my blogiversary giveaway!! Congratulations to them!! And thank you to all who entered! I know St. Anne is watching out for us all in a very special way. ❤ Have a great weekend!!
You guys! Today’s my blogiversary! Three years ago today I posted my very first post!
As I was approaching my first blogiversary two years ago, I was feeling overwhelmed with gratitude for the blessing of the blog and all of you and all the wonderful things that have come out of this sweet little space, and since St. Anne is the patroness of the blog, I decided to visit a St. Anne Shrine to thank her for her intercession and to pray for all of you. My wonderful husband helped me pack up our six boys for a day-long pilgrimage to Isle La Motte, VT, which wasn’t the kind of thing we ever really did back then, but it was so important to me to mark the occasion in an appropriate way, and the day turned out beautifully.
Last year, for the second blogiversary, we visited the St. Anne Shrine in Sturbridge, MA, which was a little farther away than Isle La Motte and came with its own set of pilgrimage-type suffering, but it also was just a perfect way to celebrate the day.
This year, we decided to go even farther away (mostly because there wasn’t any closer St. Anne Shrine), and we were originally planning on going this coming weekend, but sort of last minute decided to go this past weekend — school ended Friday and we left right afterward to go to Scranton, PA, where the Basilica of the National Shrine of St. Ann is. How cool! St. Anne has her own national shrine! It has an amazing history.
First I have to back up and say, since it was such a long drive we decided to stay overnight, so our plan was to spend Friday driving to the hotel and swimming in the hotel pool, and going to the Shrine on Saturday. Have any of you ever used the web site Six Suitcase Travel? They provide info on places for families of 5-8 to stay together in one room (as opposed to broken up into two hotel rooms, which is what we always have to do), and when I saw TownePlace Suites in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre as one of the places they recommend, I was sold! So fun to see my name on the hotel. 😁
(Beautiful, beautiful country, and up so high!)
They didn’t actually have any of their big rooms available, so we had to go the two-room route, but they put us next to each other (never a guarantee), so that part worked out well. I admit I was feeling a little bit like we weren’t being pilgrimage-y enough, since we were staying at a hotel and swimming, etc., but God finds a way! His mysterious ways! And His sense of humor! As we were checking in we were informed that their pool was closed for that night only. 😒 Fortunately they’d arranged for their guests to use the pool in the neighboring hotel, so all we had to do was go across the parking lot, but, you know, it just made it that much less easy. Fortunately the next morning their pool was open again, and they had a noon check-out time!, so we thought we’d enjoy the complimentary breakfast in the the hotel, swim for an hour, then check out and go to the shrine. Which we did, but I’m thinking the chlorine levels were extra high in the pool because of having just been cleaned? Because the boys were wailing with pain for the next couple of hours, no joke, despite rinsing eyes in the shower and the sink, and their eyes were still red and puffy at lunchtime. Poor kids. All we tried to do was have a little fun! 😭
Anyway, so we went to the Shrine, and I was trying so hard to bring my mind to a prayerful, pilgrimage-y place, despite the wailing children and my son (the one who threw up during the car ride on our St. Anne trip last year) looking at me with a green face and saying, “Mom?” while hiccuping (he didn’t get sick, thank goodness). I was thinking of you all and all your intentions, and how grateful I am for all of you and all of this.
My goals when I go on these trips are threefold: (1) to visit the church and say my prayers, and also to light a candle if possible; (2) to take some pictures; (3) to go to the gift shop. So (1) turned out to be impossible, because there were baptisms going on in the church at the exact time we were there — I peeked from the vestibule through the inner doors to see if we could go in, and there were a bunch of people right in front of those doors, so we didn’t even get to see the inside of the church. Can you believe that? We only had a certain amount of time carved out to be there, so we couldn’t wait for the baptisms to be over. And there were candles in a little grotto next to the church, but the gate to them was closed and locked.
(See the gated area on the left? With the boxes stored behind the gate? That’s where the candles were.)
(Close-up of one of the many gorgeous St. Ann (they spelled it without an E there) and Our Lady statues. I love the throne.)
(The front doors of the basilica.)
(A side door. I loved the words above the door. ❤)
Number (2) worked out okay — I took a bunch of pictures, including some of the many, many dedicated benches and bricks, as well as the different statues on the grounds.
(You know I loved seeing all the names, and I was so moved by the devotion and gratitude to St. Anne for her intercession. ❤)
(One guess as to what Frank X.’s middle name is. 😉 And I loved sweet Husband Robert’s gift to his departed wife.)
I’m going to post the pics of the saint statues on Instagram — I’ll have them up by the end of the day!
And (3) was a total bust as well — though there were no hours for the gift shop listed on their web site, there was a sign on the door saying it closed at noon on Saturdays. We were there at 12:45.
It felt a little silly that the entire point of our trip was to visit this shrine, and most of what I wanted to do there wasn’t possible. But we did offer our family rosary for the intentions I wanted to pray for: For all of you and your intentions; for your babies both living and deceased; for those who are hoping for a baby, and those who are struggling with parenthood; and in thanksgiving for all of you and the blog and all that’s happened because of it.
We also added something to our trip that felt meaningful for our mission — my maternal grandmother was Anne, and when St. Anne — grandmother of Jesus — made herself known as the patroness of the blog, I immediately thought of my own grandmother Anne, and how cozy and homey it always was with her, which is how I think of us all together. My grandmother, who went by Annie and whose actual married name was Annie Oakley, is buried in a tiny rural cemetery next to a tiny rural church in a tiny rural Pennsylvania town (google maps had a hard time finding it!). The last time I was there was when my grandfather was buried next to her twenty two years ago, and with a slight adjustment to our route we could stop there on the way home.
(David X. and Annie. One guess what my grampa’s middle name was. 😉)
(We said some prayers. Those little folded hands. 💕🙏 My uncle is also buried there — my grandparents are on the left, my uncle on the right, both with flags.)
We also stopped to have dinner with one of my sister-friends, which was wonderful, and we pulled into our driveway around 11pm that night. What a trip!
I’d really wanted to get something for you at the gift shop — something for a giveaway — and I was really intrigued by the St. Ann oil I read about on the Shrine’s web site. But instead, I’m delighted to give away three St. Anne chaplets from HandmadeCatholicShop on Etsy. I really love that the shop gives “quarterly donations to both the Catholic Church and American Troops overseas” — how wonderful!! To enter the giveaway, just click here — the giveaway will run until midnight on Friday, and I’ll notify the winners via email on Saturday! 🎉🎉🎉
St. Anne, pray for us!
… randomly chosen by Rafflecopter … Meghan! Hooray!!! 🎉🎉🎉 She said she’d choose a blue B for her newborn Benedict — how wonderful!! (Meghan — I’ll email you!)
Thank you to all of you who entered the raffle — you showed Kortnee some well deserved love!! For the rest of you — be sure to take advantage of the special discount code Kortnee’s offering to Sancta Nomina readers: use SANCTANOMINA15 until June 1 for 15% off anything in the shop! And don’t forget to check out Kortnee’s Etsy shop and web site and follow her on Instagram if you haven’t already!
Finally, a huge thank you to Kortnee for introducing herself and being so generous with her talents! I’m adding her to my Gift ideas & marketplace page as well, so you know where to find her any time you need an amazing gift for a little one (or big one?) in your life. 🙌
Happy Thursday! I’m working on a consultation post — stay tuned! I’ll have it up soon — it’s a good one!
Happy Mother’s Day!! 💐💐💐 I say this to all of you, even if you’re not moms, because everyone gets in on the celebration on Mother’s Day, don’t they?! At Mass this morning I saw so many older moms that I see every week by themselves or with their husbands, and maybe sometimes one of their children, but today it seemed like they had all their grown-up kids with them (many that I’ve seen grow up) — and I was so happy for them, what a great way to celebrate Mother’s Day. ❤
As I did last year, I really wanted to do something special for you all in honor of Our Lady during her month of May, and also in conjunction with Mother’s Day. I told you all recently about the priest who gave a mission at our church during Lent, and his story regarding the power of St. Gerard’s intercession for couples who are hoping to conceive. Then just recently, someone I know told me she’d encouraged her daughter-in-law (who’s not Catholic!) to ask St. Gerard for his intercession, and they just found out they’re having twins! So I really had it on my heart to do a novena to St. Gerard, specifically for all of you who are hoping for babies. Today was the last day of the novena, and I already said today’s prayers for it, so you’re all covered! I hope you’ll let me know when your St. Gerard babies are on the way! 😊 (I’ll also just die if any of you find out you’re having twins!👯)
Also, yesterday I attended a special celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the first apparition of Our Lady at Fatima and the canonization of our new St. Francisco and St. Jacinta 💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕 at the Auriesville Shrine (I documented it on Instagram!), and remembered all of you and your intentions during the beautiful day. I’m so grateful for you all! 🌹❤🌹❤
Finally, I wanted to give you something tangible and God provided me the perfect thing! Kortnee is a reader who has an Etsy shop called Studio Senn (she also has a non-Etsy web site here, and she’s also on Instagram, where she sometimes posts promo codes), which is “a watercolor and hand lettering small business specializing in wedding paper, watercolor maps and Catholic goods for families and children.” Regarding its origin, she told me,
“Studio Senn was born a couple years ago after working for a wedding florist/planner who asked me to do hand lettering and watercolor for some small projects she had. I started doing custom invitations and watercolor maps after that. This year I’ve decided to branch out and add more of my passions to the shop: Catholic goods for families and children, baby announcements, and hopefully soon original artwork.”
You guys! She has some ah-MAZ-ing things that I know you will all LOVE as much as I do! Like this ABC Saint Poster (she paints a little saint for each letter! So darling!):
And this St. Therese quote:
There are so many sweet sweet things to choose from! But my very favorite is this Custom Saint, Letter, Color Square Print:
Which is why I’m giving one of them away to one of you!! 🎉🎉🎉 To enter, click here to go to the Rafflecopter page for this giveaway! It starts today and ends at midnight on Wednesday, and I’ll announce the winner on Thursday — the birthday of St. John Paul the Great! 👊💕
For the rest of you, Kortnee’s offering a special discount code for Sancta Nomina readers! Use SANCTANOMINA15 until June 1 for 15% off anything in the shop! And as a special bonus — she also shared about her sons’ names! They are:
“Our son Fulton is obviously (or at least I would guess so for your readers) named after Venerable Fulton Sheen. My husband and I have been inspired by his words for years. His middle name, Douglas, is after my father-in-law. Becket is named after Saint Thomas Becket. We thought he would be a wonderful intercessor for religious reedom in this day and age and we have always loved the work the Becket Fund does for that same cause. His middle name, Raymond, is after my dad and grandpa. It happened to be a coincidence that they are both surnames. Not necessarily a trend we plan to keep but always fun to think of what would go well with them!“
I hope you all found this post as fun to read as I had writing it!! Don’t forget to enter the raffle and check our Kortnee’s Etsy shop, web site, and Instagram, and I hope you all have a wonderful wonderful day!! 🌼🌺🌷🌸