Ste Anne des Lacs

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Ste Anne des Lacs

St. Anne des Lacs was a rural shrine built about 1923 by French-speaking Catholics on Lake St. Anne, a lake of about 15 acres, located about six miles east of Lake Wales, Florida and 1.5 miles south of S.R. 60. It was built of stone, a rare and rarely used material in Florida. The shrine included the church, and an elaborate set of statuary which made up the stations of the cross, and which were spread through the surrounding woods on a set of trails. A statue of St. Anne stood in the lake itself on a raised stone platform, creating a very evocative scene.

Pilgrimages were made to the shrine from throughout the state, and thousands of people crowded the narrow road from the highway to the small lake, often parking a great distance away and walking to the shrine. The shrine was de-sanctified by the Diocese of St. Augustine in the 1960s, and most of the shrine was removed to prevent vandalism. Some historical traces remain.

The story of St. Anne's Shrine goes like this: A man from Canada, (believed to be Napoleon Pelletier)) came down to Florida with his very sick son. His son had been diagnosed as terminally ill. While traveling in Florida, they came upon the little lake at what is now St. Anne's. They swam and camped there and the boy's condition improved, and he was miraculously cured. His cure was attributed to the healing waters, and so the man single-handedly built a shrine to St. Anne, a popular Canadian saint associated with water, in an oak hammock next to the lake. The Catholic Church eventually demolished most of the church, leaving only the altar. Several stone walls, and the original steps of the church remain.