Wednesday, May 18, 2016

A Rare Glimpse Inside a Historic North American Convent: St. Ann in Victoria (Canada)

In 1858 the Sisters of St. Ann arrived here and established their first school behind the present building.  That first school building still exists, later moved to the nearby Royal British Columbia Museum and placed next to the historic Helmcken House.

Construction of this convent was begun in 1871.  The property is a lovely 6.5 acres, located next to Beacon Hill Park in Victoria, B.C.

Today this precious link to the past is owned by the Province of British Columbia and houses offices of the Ministry of Advanced Education.  It would be nice to see the property revived once again as a private Catholic girls school.  Girls in uniform and nuns in habit.  The best of what it always offered. 

Pray for more female religious vocations to fill our empty convents.  It will take robust new religious orders to rise and reclaim what has been lost -- the priceless value of a Catholic education by religious nuns.    

Commemorated in the busts flanking the entrance to the chapel are Mother Marie Anne Blondin, the Foundress of the Sisters of St. Ann, and Bishop Ignatius Bourget, the Bishop of Montreal when the congregation was established in 1850.  They were pioneers. 

Convents have always been special places.  Each one an oasis of peace. 

Lots of thought always went into the layout, design and construction. 

Always a large parlor with a piano.  Immaculate and clean.  Lovely, feminine sisters in their long and flowing habits; brides of Christ.  A lovely novitiate garden where flowers for the altar were grown.  Sometimes a single crab apple tree, to serve as a pollinator for other trees.  Large, French casement windows.  Art and music rooms.  Classrooms, dormitory, library.  The Sacred Heart enthroned.  A crystal chandelier.  Orchards, a cemetery, a formal garden, an outdoor Marian shrine for the May crowning.  A bell to ring.  A refectory with an image of the Last Supper, the infirmary with access to the chapel.  The priests breakfast room for the chaplain, with attached confessional.   

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