Project 365 – Day 156: Basilique-Cathédrale Marie-Reine-du-Monde
June 04 2012
Before today, I had never actually stepped inside the Basilique-Cathédrale Marie-Reine-du-Monde on René-Lévesque blvd, but I’m glad I eventually made it.
The construction of the cathedral was ordered by the second bishop of Montreal (Msgr. Ignace Bourget), to replace the former Saint-Jacques Cathedral which had burned in 1852. The cathedral – a scale model of Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome – was in response to a rivalry with the Sulpician order who had been the feudal seigneurs of Montreal, and with the Anglican Church, both of which favoured the Neo-Gothic style instead.
The plans were drawn by Victor Bourgeault and the first cornerstone laid in 1870 and began its liturgical life in 1894. In 1904, it became a parish and in 1919, a cathedral-basilica.
Before I get to the pictures of the inside, here are some shots of the exterior. A key feature of the Basilique are the 13 statues at the top of the facade. Unlike those at the top of Saint Peter’s which are of Christ and his 12 apostles, the statues in Montreal represent various Saints, including Saint John the Baptist, Saint Patrick and Saint Francis of Assisi
Now some images from inside. Thankfully they don’t have a problem using tripods, so I was able to take some HDR.
Beneath the Cupola stands a reproduction of Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s celebrated Baldacchino in Saint Peter’s in Rome. It was created by Victor Vincent in Rome in 1900 and is made of red copper and decorated with gold leaf.
Just as I was leaving, I spoke to Michel who is a guide and he kindly let me in to the side chapels. I recommend you taking a guided tour to see these chapels that are visible through ornate glass doors at either side of the Cathedral but normally locked.
First is the Baptistery featuring a marble font and a stucco crucifix sculpted by Philippe Hérbert.
Next to the Baptistery on the west side is The Chapel of the Assumption. The wood carved altarpiece is decorated with gold leaf and adorned with a painting of the assumption of the Virgin Mary. The Altarpiece dates back to around 1635 and was created by a Spanish monk in Switzerland. The monks were force to leave the monastery in the early 19th century and they sold the altarpiece. In 1994 it was donated to the Montreal ArchDiocese.
My favorite chapel was The Bishops’ Mortuary Chapel on the East side. Completed in 1933, it’s the last resting place of the Archbishops and Bishops of Montreal. The walls and floor are made of Italian marble and mosaic. In the center of the chapel is Msgr Bourget’s tomb that was created in Rome.
I hadn’t envisioned today being such a long post, but I get a little trigger happy when I go to places as beautiful as this and the HDR bug kicks in. Can’t believe it took me 13 years to venture inside !