92 St. Anne’s Rd., Isle La Motte, Vermont
Vermont’s oldest white settlement was founded here at the water’s edge in 1666, when a French officer, Capt. Pierre La Motte, built Fort St. Anne as a bastion against the Mohawk tribe. The fort was needed for only a short time, but soon afterward Jesuit priests built the first Christian chapel on the site in the woods.
Within the small cruciform chapel is a simple wooden altar with the figures of St. Anne and the Virgin Mary. To the left another altar is dedicated to St. Anne; on the walls near it hang abandoned crutches and plaster casts, evidence of the healings that are said to have taken place here. A rustic grotto near the chapel shelters a figure of the Virgin Mary. Also close by is an A-frame shrine that houses a marble statue of St. Anne. On the hill behind the chapel are other shrines, which are dedicated to saints Anthony and Francis.
In a grove of pine trees on the site of the old stockade is the Gethsemane Garden, where the stations of the cross are inscribed on copper tablets. Beyond the Gethsemane Garden stands a granite statue of Samuel de Champlain, in a canoe with a Native American companion, marking the site of his landfall at Isle La Motte in 1609. Because of the crowds attracted to the shrine on weekends and holidays, it is best to visit on weekdays. Dock facilities are available for those who come by boat.
For the state of Vermont, taking in refugees led to some heartwarming lessons.