DETROIT (WWJ) – Not every city can say they have their own saint — but the city of Detroit can.

Saint Anne, the mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary and grandmother of Christ, has been named by the Vatican as the patron saint for the Archdiocese of Detroit.

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Prior to the official declaration, it was an unofficial designation of sorts that Saint Anne was the city’s official saint, due to the first Detroit Catholic parish established in 1701 named after her.

“Saint Anne has been integral to the story and history of Detroit, and the first Catholic presence in southeast Michigan,” Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron said in a release. “Today I am happy to announce that Saint Anne has been, is, and ever will be our patron saint.”

To commemorate the Vatican’s announcement, Archbishop Vigneron will celebrate a Mass at Sainte Anne de Detroit Church, near the Ambassador Bridge, on Saint Anne’s feast day, July 26. Liturgies also will be held that day at Saint Anne Church in Monroe, Saint Anne Church in Ortonville and Saint Anne Church in Warren.

A patron saint is seen as the particular advocate for a chosen place or activity. Catholics pray to saints for their intercession and look at their lives as examples of how to be good Christians.

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The local Catholic Church’s relationship with Saint Anne dates to the city’s founding. The first Mass in the Archdiocese of Detroit was said to have been celebrated on Saint Anne’s feast day, July 26, in 1701. The same day, Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac and 51 settlers established Sainte Anne de Detroit – the first Catholic Church in Detroit and now the second-oldest Catholic parish in America.

Because of this history, Saint Anne had been assumed by many over two-plus centuries to be Detroit’s patron saint. Until now, however, it never had been made official by the pope.

Shortly after becoming the archbishop of Detroit in January 2009, Archbishop Vigneron learned that the Church of Detroit did not have an official patron saint.

Through parish bulletins, the Archdiocese of Detroit website, Catholic schools, The Michigan Catholic newspaper, Catholic Television Network of Detroit, and Ave Maria Radio, he asked local Catholics to suggest who they believed should be Detroit’s patron saint.

With feedback from local Catholics – many of whom suggested Saint Anne – and from local Catholic priests, he sent a request to the Vatican in January 2010 that Saint Anne officially be named Detroit’s patroness.

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Saint Anne is also considered the patroness saint of housewives, women in labor, cabinet makers, horse riders and miners.