The History of Saint Anne’s Shrine (St. Anne des Lacs)
T he history of Holy Spirit Parish would not be complete without a brief history of St. Anne Shrine. After the church was built, on the shores of the lake, the grounds surrounding it were developed. It was the dream of Mr. Napolean Pelletier, (who defrayed all expense), and was carried out through the guidance and effort of Father Salois.
T The original outdoor altar was replaced by a replica of the Grotto at Lourdes. Here Mass was offered during the pilgrimages held twice a year – one in February in honor of our Lady of Lourdes, and one in July in honor of St. Anne. There was, also a lovely Shrine to St. Therese, the Little Flower. There were outdoor stations of the cross. It was a beauty spot among trees, flowers and landscaped grounds.
A short distance to the right, was the recreation pavilion for the residents. It was here that the Lake Wales Club members served dinner to the many people who came from all parts of the state to attend the pilgrimages. many tourists visited the Shrine throughout the year. In 1940, Father Salois was transferred to Bradenton. The war years followed. The French Canadians and their priests no longer came for the winter. The church remained closed and a said air of neglect settled over the place. Then came the orders from the Bishop that the church was to be torn down and all outdoor statues removed. The memories of those early days are very dear to the Holy Spirit Parishioners who watched its development and understood and loved it.
N ow the only trace left is the Grotto, (from which the statues of Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Bernadette have been removed) and the stone lined paths, under the trees, that once led to the various shrines. A mute tribute to the little group of Catholics who had a great love for the Blessed Virgin and her mother, St. Anne, in their hearts.
Excerpted from Church of the Holy Spirit, Lake Wales, Florida: 50 Years 1927-1977.
St. Anne’s Shrine on the Map GPS Coordinates: 27.88475,-81.4860638
Click here for a comprehensive Saint Anne’s Shrine Photo Gallery
Video of Heritage Trails #4 Lake Wales Church of the Holy Spirit by Polk County Historic Preservation Manager
“Monument that once contained a statue of Jesus Christ in Lake St. Anne at St. Anne Shrine in Lake Wales.” © Paul Crate | LEDGER MEDIA GROUP
St. Anne Shrine near Lake Wales stands as a shadow of what it once was -— its weathered stone grotto and tile-laden altar among the few aging remnants of its hallowed past.
Yet those shadows impart a miraculous story.
They harken to a century ago when a group of Catholics from Canada ventured to Florida in 1920 to escape the harsh winters of their homeland. Recalling Canada’s devotion to St. Anne de Beaupre, they chose to build a shrine to St. Anne, mother of the Virgin Mary, at their winter retreat on State Road 60, six miles east of Lake Wales.
And through the leadership and generosity of Canadian native and winter resident Napoleon Pelletier, the Shrine to St. Anne des Lacs, or St. Anne of the Lakes, began to take form. The intimate white chapel, the towering grotto mirroring the site where the Virgin Mary appeared at Lourdes in France, the pedestal bearing a statue of Jesus Christ and the tiered monument to Saint Theresa emerged near the southern shore of the Saint Anne Lake, according to records at the Catholic Diocese of St. Augustine.
video: Heritage Trails #3 St Anne’s Shrine by Polk County Historic Preservation Manager
The image and excerpted text used by permission from the author and ledger.com. Read more on Ledger.com