Profile Type: Places of Worship Location: Sainte-Anne-de-Kent, New Brunswick
Having lost their cherished neo-gothic Church and its ‘Sistine Chapel of l’Acadie’ to a lightning storm and ensuing fire, the Parish decided to rebuild on the same site. The original building, a national heritage site and home to Edouard Gautreau’s acclaimed fresco paintings, was a powerful symbol for the community’s sense of identity. The new facility re-establishes the cornerstone and focus for the Community. Its dynamic, contemporary forms celebrate an important Place without slavishly copying historic details. The use of bold color speaks to the determination of the Acadian Culture’s return. Exterior clapboard suits the context, and the sanctuary’s main wall is expressed by the strength of masonry on both the interior and the exterior. A canopy at the main entrance is inviting and protects arrivals from inclement weather. The new church was designed for a new era, integrating the Place of Worship, an expandable multi-purpose community hall, teaching rooms and the rectory. Artifacts, such as religious statues and an original painting, saved from the fire were integrated into the design to recall the community’s rich heritage. Parishioners gather in the bright foyer before entering the 200 person Nave, where the volume accentuates the altar and its two 3.6m tall Gautreau paintings. Re-conditioned benches embrace the altar in a circular plan. Sandstone from the original foundation provides a pedestal for Sainte-Anne’s roadside statue and is recalled in the sanctuary’s tabernacle light base, the most significant icon in a catholic church.
“… and your final statement revealed both the regret of losing a heritage treasure and the joy of the challenge to modernize, beautiful and meaningful.” Maurice Couture, S.V. Archbishop of Quebec (Retired)