Sunday, October 2, 2011

Notre Dame Basilica - Montreal

Notre Dame Basilica 
is located in Old Montreal and faces Place d'Armes square. Place d'Armes means "parade ground" in French and refers to locals who would come to watch the military do their maneuvers there. The Place d'Armes contains a prominent statue of Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve, the founder of Montreal in 1642, which faces the Basilica. 
Construction of the current church began in 1824 and the sanctuary was finished in 1830. The western tower was completed in 1841 and has one 11 ton bell. The eastern tower was completed in 1843 and has 10 smaller bells. 
It was the largest church in North America when it was completed, large enough to hold 4,000 worshipers. The three statues on the facade represent Montreal (the Virgin Mary), 
Quebec (John the Baptist) 
and Canada (St. Joseph). 
A parish church of Notre Dame, dedicated to Mary, and completed in 1672, was on this same site. It was only when it got too small for the parishioner's needs that the existing church was built. The sanctuary is particularly noteworthy because of the glowing blue and gold behind the altar. 
It creates the feeling that you are looking out at the sky.
A closer view.
The focal point is Jesus on the cross flanked by two women. 
Above it is a statue of what I am guessing is Mary being crowned by the Father. 
Below was a depiction of the Last Supper.
On the opposite end was a large organ
The stained glass windows along the walls of the sanctuary depict the history of Ville-Marie after Roman Catholics from the Sulpician Order arrived in 1657 rather than traditional biblical scenes. 

The stained glass windows were imported from Limoges, France. 

Much of the rest of the interior contains rare woods, gilded and painted, which was difficult to appreciate because of the dim lighting. 

However, there were also quite a few statues carved out of wood, several of which were quite spectacular. My favorites were the carvings of Ezekiel and Jeremiah, seated next to each other.  
One of Jesus on the cross
was above beautiful lighted candles.

There were a few paintings, but quite dimly lit.
A more intimate chapel, the Chapel of the Sacred Heart (Chapelle du Sacre-Coeur) was built behind it in 1891. It is used for ceremonies for smaller congregations, including marriages and funerals. The Sacred Heart Chapel was destroyed by arson in 1978 and rebuilt from old drawings, photographs and the addition of a large bronze altarpiece. The altar has 32 panels representing birth, life and death. 
It is very well lit and much more modern, quite a contrast from the quite dark, but glowing Basilica. 

This is rated as the no. 1 destination for Montreal by Trip Advisor. I wish we'd had more time in Montreal to see some of the other churches. It appears that there are many other beautiful churches in the city. 

1 comment:

  1. The glowing blue ceilings set this apart from any other church I've been in. I loved the color and the distinct Gothic altarpiece. I would love to see this interior during different times of the day, or perhaps during a service. Gorgeous.