Pilgrimage to Molenschot


Saint Anne, the mother of Mary

According to a legend from the second century Anne was the mother of Mary and the grandmother of Jesus. She was married to Joachim but the marriage remained childless for a long time despite many supplications to God. Finally, after many years, Anne’s prayers were answered and she became pregnant.

The worship of Anne started in the 5th/6th century in the Middle East and spread quickly to the west where she became popular. The worship reached its peak in the 15th and 16th century. It became popular in those days to portray Anne as ‘Virgin with Child and Saint Anne’ (in Dutch: Anna te Drieën). Her feast day is July 26.

Molenschot is known for its chapel, dedicated to Saint Anne. Over the centuries the chapel, already mentioned in 1549, had fallen into disrepair but in 1842 there had been a major renovation. The restored chapel was dedicated to Saint Anne. This marks the beginning of the devotion to Anna. After the establishment of the Brotherhood of Saint Anne in 1879 the number of pilgrimages from surrounding areas, visiting Molenschot on July 26, grew considerably. Traditionally the chapel was visited by woman who pray for a husband or a child.

From the mid 20th century pilgrimage became less but since the late nineties pilgrims from all over the country made their way to Molenschot again. At first only single woman, later single man visited the chapel as well.
Nowadays hundreds of woman and man visit every year on July 26 the chapel, not only to pray for a partner or a child but also hoping for help with marital and other problems.

© photos: Bea and Dick Hoeks-De Laat, 2007

Read more about Saint Anne (in Dutch) or about the project Places of Pilgrimage