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Located in the lower church at the entrance to the chapel is a statue of St. Anne and the young Virgin Mary. It is enshrined in ornately carved wooden paneling and there is a “prie dieu” kneeler directly in front of the statue. The expression “prie dieu” is French for “pray to God” and such a kneeler is mainly used for private devotion. A short devotional prayer is taped on the arm rest.

Located in the lower church at the entrance to the chapel is a statue of St. Anne and the young Virgin Mary. It is enshrined in ornately carved wooden paneling and there is a “prie dieu” kneeler directly in front of the statue. The expression “prie dieu” is French for “pray to God” and such a kneeler is mainly used for private devotion. A short devotional prayer is taped on the arm rest.

Celebrating the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul

Here is a challenge to Basilica parishioners and visitors past and present—how many pieces of the building’s sacred statuary can you count and name? Last week’s Basilica side altar feature included two, the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph.

But how many statues are there in total? Are all original to the Basilica? And what do these statues represent to the Basilica’s faithful?

Located in the lower church at the entrance to the chapel is one such statue, of St. Anne and the young Virgin Mary. It is enshrined in ornately carved wooden paneling and there is a “prie dieu” kneeler directly in front of the statue. The expression “prie dieu” is French for “pray to God” and such a kneeler is mainly used for private devotion. A short devotional prayer is taped on the arm rest.

St. Anne was the mother of Mary and the grandmother of Jesus. Although there is no certain knowledge of her identity, she is mentioned in apocryphal literature. A shrine at Douai, France, was an early center of devotion to her in the Middle Ages; more familiar to many in the local area is the Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre, in Quebec, where healing miracles have been reported over the years. Some parishioners still make pilgrimage to Quebec in honor of St. Anne.

Nearby is another statue, enshrined similarly to the St. Anne and Virgin Mary statue, of St. Jude, often called the patron saint of lost causes. Like with St. Anne and the Virgin Mary, the statue of St. Jude offers those seeking spiritual support a place for private devotion.  

Directly in back of the lower church’s chapel, in what is now considered the church hall, are a number of other statues. A number of these were taken from other local churches which closed due to parish consolidation.

In an alcove along the Bartlett Street side of the church is a representation of Michelangelo’s Pieta The sculpture depicts the slain body of Jesus on the lap of his mother, Mary. Familiar to former members of St. Patrick’s Church (now the Agora Grand Event Center) this large sculpture was created by the famous German manufacturing company Mayer & Co. of Munich and dates to approximately 1910. The sculpture’s provenance is confirmed by the German company’s embossed stamp, located on the lower right of the sculpture.

Approximately 4 ½ feet wide and 4 feet high, the somber sculpture is set on a carved oak shelf, with prie dieu kneelers for prayer and contemplation.

The presence of sacred sculpture in a church setting is unfamiliar to many Protestants, who might consider them idols. Catholics, however, do not consider these artistic representations as idols; they are reminders of sacred history and an element of prayer and worship.

Catholics consider sculpture as one of many elements of an atmosphere suitable for worship. Other rich and beautiful elements include music, art, architecture, poetry, and ceremony as parts of the long tradition of honoring God, all of which the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul has in abundance.

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Near to the statue of St. Anne and the Virgin Mary is a statue of St. Jude, often called the patron saint of lost causes. Those in need of spiritual support and desiring a place for private devotion will also pray before St. Jude.

In an alcove along the Bartlett Street side of the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul is a representation of Michelangelo’s “Pieta.” The sculpture depicts the slain body of Jesus on the lap of his mother, Mary.