this small town in Normandy where the priest Jacques Hamel was murdered on 26th July. All over France today, religious services have taken place in his memory bringing together people of all faiths or with no religious faith.
As you may know France is what we call un état laïque ( a secular state) since the law in 1905 which separated l'église et l'état ( the church and the state). Every religious faith is allowed and respected but only outside any public building, like schools, hospitals, government buildings etc... as the state is neutral.
Jasques Hamel was murdered on Ste Anne's day. As you may know the French calendar has a saint for every day of the year and Christians celebrate the saint day of every member of the family, so if someone is called Françoise, on 9th March people will say to her: Bonne fête Françoise! and may give her a present.
For Christians, Sainte Anne is particularly important as she was the mother of the Virgin Mary. She is Hannah for the Muslims, meaning kind and sympathetic.
She is the patronne of clercs, matrones and widows.
In France the first sanctuary dedicated to her, in the 11th century, was the ancient cathedral of Apt in le département du Vaucluse.
Sainte Anne has become the patron saint of Brittany, so many pilgrimages take place every year, the most important is Sainte Anne d'Auray.
Auray is an attractive harbour in South Brittany in le département du Morbihan, a nice place to visit.
If you would like to find out more about French culture or French places to visit or learn French whatever your level, our French classes will resume in September, for more info...