Basilica of Ste. Anne prepares to celebrate historic novena both online and in person

A statue of Ste. Anne is seen outside the Basilica of Ste. Anne in southwest Detroit. This year’s annual novena to the patroness of the Archdiocese of Detroit will take place both as an in-person and a livestreamed event, with the faithful invited to participate in either format starting Thursday, July 17, until Ste. Anne’s feast day Sunday, July 26. (Detroit Catholic file photo)

One of the Archdiocese of Detroit’s oldest devotions — its annual novena to Ste. Anne — will take place as a ‘hybrid’ event this year, July 17-26

DETROIT  The Basilica of Ste. Anne de Detroit has been praying a novena to the mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary for 130 years.

The tradition will continue this year, but it will look different.

The parish will still host nine Masses, starting July 17 and leading up to the July 26 feast of Ste. Anne, with each Mass celebrating a different culture present in Metro Detroit. But the novena and feast day Mass will also be livestreamed on the parish’s Facebook page — another quirk of church life with COVID-19.

“A big change will be that this is going to be a hybrid event,” Msgr. Charles Kosanke, pastor of Ste. Anne, told Detroit Catholic. “People can still come to the church, following the archdiocesan liturgical guidelines for COVID-19. Or they can watch the livestream online if they feel uncomfortable being in a group. This will be the first novena livestreamed in our 130-year history.”

As in prior years, the novena will honor the Detroit area’s many cultures, from the French who established Detroit’s oldest parish in 1701 to the Latino culture that is prevalent in the parish today.

The homilies at each Mass will be themed to the culture being represented, with different homilists each time, to celebrate the rich diversity in the local Church that sprang from the archdiocese’s “founding parish.”

Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron will celebrate the feast day Mass itself on Sunday, July 26. It will be the first time the archbishop will celebrate Mass at Ste. Anne since it was named a basilica March 1.

Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron celebrates Mass at Ste. Anne on Ste. Anne’s feast day in July 2019. This year’s novena is the first since the historic church was designated a minor basilica by the Vatican in March. (Naomi Vrazo | Detroit Catholic) 

In addition to being a celebration of faith and culture, the novena also is Ste. Anne’s biggest fundraiser of the year. In a normal year, between 4,000 and 5,000 people attend the novena, but the parish isn’t expecting that many this year, Msgr. Kosanke said. While people are welcome to attend — though limited to the first 500 people — they can also participate and support the parish’s programs and outreach online.

Over the decades, pilgrims who attend the novena have reported miracles and healings through Ste. Anne’s intercession. In recent years, the parish, which hosts the archdiocesan shrine to Ste. Anne and a first-class relic of the grandmother of Christ, has become a popular pilgrimage destination for couples seeking to conceive. 

“The most common prayer we hear get answered is from couples who have not been able to have their own children,” Msgr. Kosanke said. “After spending thousands on medical bills and resources, they come to the novena with this petition, and every year, without fail, we get someone who comes back pregnant or with their baby the next year.”

“Grandmothers are very powerful,” Msgr. Kosanke added.

After every Mass during the novena will be a procession with a statue of Ste. Anne throughout the church. This year, guests will not be permitted to join the procession, and instead will be asked to stay in their pews to maintaining social distancing.

People will still have the chance to venerate the relic of Ste. Anne, but with limitations.

“Usually people venerate the relic by kissing or touching it. This year we are asking people to come up and receive a blessing, but for sanitary purposes, we’re asking people not to touch or kiss the relic,” Msgr. Kosanke said.

Normally, a banquet and celebration would take place in the plaza on the basilica’s grounds, but that too had to be scuttled this year for safety reasons.

Still, in such an unusual year, Msgr. Kosanke said it’s blessing enough to be able to gather as a parish to celebrate the archdiocese’s patroness.

“Obviously, the Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life,” Msgr. Kosanke said. “We’re so very grateful to still have the novena, despite some of the restrictions. And through technology, more people are able to participate who won’t be able to come in person. We’re still excited, just like every year, to welcome people to pray, and pray they will experience a miracle in their midst.”

Ste. Anne novena schedule

All events will take place at the Basilica of Ste. Anne, 1000 Ste. Anne St., Detroit. Each event will be open to the first 500 people who arrive. 

Friday, July 17 — Honoring Asian Culture: China, India, Japan, Philippines, Vietnam and Korea
Fr. Hoang Lam, celebrant and homilist at 7 p.m. Mass

Saturday, July 18 — Honoring African Culture: African-American, Benin, Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda and Uganda
Fr. Ted Parker, celebrant, and Fr. John McKenzie, homilist, at 7 p.m. Mass

Sunday, July 19 — Honoring French and French-Canadian Culture: Special recognition of Ste. Anne founders and Ste. Anne School alumni
Fr. Patrick Gonyeau, celebrant and homilist at 12 p.m. Mass

Monday, July 20 — Honoring Chaldean Culture
St. Thomas the Apostle Chaldean Eparchy Bishop Francis Y. Kalabat, celebrant and homilist at 12 p.m. Mass 

Tuesday, July 21 — Honoring Latino Culture: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Cuba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua and Spain
Detroit Auxiliary Bishop Donald Hanchon, celebrant, and Fr. Bernardo Cruz, homilist, at 7 p.m. Masss

Wednesday, July 22 — Honoring Albanian Culture
Fr. Frederik Kalaj, celebrant, and Fr. Marko Djonovic, homilist, at 7 p.m. Mass

Thursday, July 23 — Honoring Western European Culture: Austria, Germany, Italy and Malta
Detroit Auxiliary Bishop Arturo Cepeda, celebrant, and Fr. Enzo Andari, homilist, at 7 p.m. Mass

Friday, July 24 — Honoring Eastern European Culture: Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia
Detroit Auxiliary Bishop Robert Fisher, celebrant, and Fr. Barnabas Kiss, homilist, at 7 p.m. Mass

Saturday, July 25 — Honoring Celtic and British Culture: Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales
Detroit Auxiliary Bishop Gerard Battersby, celebrant, and Msgr. Timothy Hogan, homilist, at 7 p.m. Mass

Sunday, July 26 — Feast of Ste. Anne
Mass celebrated by Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron, noon

History of Devotion to Ste. Anne

What is known about Ste. Anne comes from the Protoevangelium of James, an apocryphal Gospel written around 145 A.D. Anne was married to Joachim and is the mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and therefore the grandmother of Jesus.

Missionaries dedicated a chapel to Ste Anne in France in the 6th century A.D. In France, devotion to Ste. Anne became important when a French peasant, Yves Nicolazic, reported apparitions of Ste. Anne in August of 1623 and 1624. A woman appeared who said: “I am Anne, mother of Mary. There was a chapel built here before that was dedicated to me. I ask you to build it again and take care of it because God wants me honored here.”

French missionaries brought the devotion to Quebec, Canada in 1658. Over the centuries several churches have been built in honor of Ste. Anne. The Basilica of Ste. Anne de Beaupre in Quebec was completed in 1946.

Devotion to Ste. Anne in Detroit

Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac founded Detroit on July 24, 1701. Two days later, a Mass was celebrated on Ste. Anne’s feast day by one of the priests who came with Cadillac. Ste. Anne was the patroness of New France.

Although the novena to Ste. Anne presumably goes back to the beginning of the parish, there was surge of devotion to the saint and to the novena with the building of the current church in 1886. A shrine was constructed in the southeast side of the church. A relic of Ste. Anne was obtained from the basilica in Paris and is displayed in a reliquary at the shrine. Fr. James Grand (1886-1907) and Fr. Luke Renaud (1907-1919) of the Basilian Fathers of Toronto were pastors during this period.

On April 19, 2017, Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron decreed that the shrine in the Basilica of Ste. Anne de Detroit is the official archdiocesan shrine to Ste. Anne. Ste. Anne is the patron saint of the Archdiocese of Detroit.

Information courtesy of