Ste. Anne’s photos, part I

This week’s “Guess Where” is connected to Detroit’s 311th birthday, which we celebrated last week. It’s one of my favorite spots in the city; I shot it last weekend for the first time, and plan to go back several times for a mini-project I’m thinking about.

UPDATE: My friend David Nantais (fellow UD Jesuit grad) guessed right. These shots are of Ste. Anne’s Catholic Church, which was founded just a few days after Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac disembarked along the shores of the Detroit River and established our city. Obviously, Ste. Anne’s is Detroit’s oldest church.

It’s located in southwest, just off Fort St. and 18th, not too far from the Ambassador Bridge.

Fr. Gabriel Richard came to Detroit to be pastor at Ste. Anne’s in 1798s; he coined the city’s motto in 1805, after most of Detroit burned to the ground. “Speramus Meliora; Resurget Cineribus.” We hope for better days. It shall rise from the ashes.

I borrowed RESURGET, of course, for the name of this blog.

I shot these photos last weekend, and they’re part of a planned mini-project I’m mulling about Detroit’s historic churches. It isn’t well defined yet (how to define which churches to shoot, what to do with the material once I’m done, etc.) but I know that Ste. Anne’s is ground zero for it. I’ll be going back soon to take more shots, and will be contacting the pastor there to get permission to shoot during services, so I can incorporate parishioners into the photographs.

Detroit’s religious history, and its present-day faith community, are fascinating to me. Across myriad denominations, cathedrals and storefronts, our city’s faith is one of its bedrock attributes. Starting with Ste. Anne’s, and going at least through the early history of churches in and around the city’s core, I definitely want to take a closer look.

I first went to Ste. Anne’s in the mid-1980s, when I was at U of D Jesuit High School and a victim student in Joe Rodriguez’s Spanish class. We called him Senor, and we quaked at the sound of his thunderous voice or the wave of the sawed-off golf club he used as a pointer. (He was actually a very decent man and a fabulous teacher; his intimidation was meant to grab our attention more than scare us!)

One of our assignments in class was to attend one of the Spanish masses at Ste. Anne’s. I remember doing it reluctantly, but then falling in love with the church when I was there. Architecturally, it’s unmatched in Detroit – almost European in its ornamentation.

Anywhere you stand, inside or out, there’s a wonderful shot to be taken.

2 thoughts on “Ste. Anne’s photos, part I

  1. Nice post of a treasure in our great city of Detroit. I too remember the sunday visit with Senor to attend mass, say the prayers in Spanish, sing songs for the local people, and then eating lunch at a local restaurant where we had to use only Spanish to order our food. I miss his classes and I miss him. I am sad that they painted over the murals in his room as I remember looking at those many times while in class and someone else was the focus of his attention and push ups punishments!!!

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