Date of Award

Fall 2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Religious Sciences


Ellen Badone


Celia Rothenberg



Committee Member

Anders Runesson


This study examines the experience of visitors to the shrine of Sainte Anne de Beaupré in Québec, Canada. Drawing on ethnographic data, narratives and historical research, this project describes the ways in which Saint Anne is meaningful to people. I focus on the themes of pilgrimage and tourism, devotional expressions, visionary experiences and religious healing.

While the earliest visitors to the shrine were primarily motivated by stories of the miraculous, contemporary visitors have many different motivations, blurring the scholarly boundaries constructed between pilgrimage and tourism.

Devotional expressions at Sainte Anne de Beaupré, understood as “media of engagement” or “relationships of presence,” encompass a wide range of practices, meanings and functions. Power is invested and diffused through Saint Anne by forming “cogent connections” to her through the media of devotional expressions.

This study also considers visionary experiences that are associated with Saint Anne, especially visions that are related to pilgrimage and religious healing at Sainte Anne de Beaupré. Rather than focusing on the “epiphany” of the visionary experience itself, I suggest that agency is key to understanding visions, particularly as they relate to issues of empowerment.

Finally, I situate pilgrimage, devotional expressions and visionary encounters in the context of religious healing. The term healing encompasses a broad range of meanings, and I demonstrate that journeys to Sainte Anne de Beaupré involve a quest for therapy, self-transformation, identity and/or personal empowerment.

McMaster University Library

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