National Shrine of St. Anne
The Normans brought devotion to St. Anne to Ireland and established a shrine in her honour in a chapel dedicated to their sainted Bishop of Rouen, St. Audoen, at Cornmarket in Dublin. Devotion to St. Anne on this site dates from 1169/1170 centred on the Norman gifted relic (a finger bone) of St. Anne to their new home. Such was the level of devotion that by 1352 the festival of St. Anne on 26th July was declared a holyday of obligation and in 1431, King Henry VI granted letters patent establishing the Guild of St. Anne – “to the praise of God and of the Blessed Virgin Mary and in honour of St. Anne”. Six priests were necessary to tend to the needs of pilgrims from within Ireland, from Britain and from the Continent. The Church contained a chapel to St. Mary (the Lady Chapel) and St. Anne, with altars to St. Catherine, St. Nicholas, St. Thomas and St. Clare. Excavation yields in 1967 to 1972 at the thirteenth century layer, included a pewter pilgrim-badge and a small bronze pilgrim’s flask/ampulla. The Seal of the Guild can be seen today in the medieval church.
The Change in Religion
During the protestant reformation, the Norman Church was taken over and so lost to its Catholic congregation and to the Guild of St. Anne. The Guild itself continued, despite the dissolution of Abbeys, Priories and other religious houses, remaining unquestioned until the early seventeenth century. Devotion to St. Anne was revived again in Dublin 1912 in the new Catholic St. Audoen’s. The beautiful Statue of the shrine made by Deghini’s of Fishamble Street, Dublin, was gifted by a Mrs. Kelly in 1919.
A New Vision
The vision of the then parish priest Canon James Monks, the building of St. Audoen’s Catholic Church is, in itself, a testimony to faith, perseverance, generosity and heroic love of God. By the date of his death in 1855 the structure had been completed, debt free, at a cost of over £10,000. The foundation stone was laid in July, 1841, just twelve years after the Catholic Emancipation Act, 1829, but, it would be some forty years later before the full completion of this triumphal monument to faith. The purchase of the land was funded by penny collections - £4,436 from the impoverished city population between 1833 and 1841. Public fundraising meetings were held to fund the build, a founding member donor being Daniel O’Connell.
Cristine Comiskey article about National Shrine...