In the wake of the success of the cultural-spiritual route of the Sanctuaries of the river inaugurated in 2016, two new circuits with a heritage and religious flavor have just been launched in Montérégie, respectively centered on places of interest and characters who have shaped the region. current. Armed with our history-loving pilgrim’s stick, we walked through it.
Set up by the regional religious and spiritual tourism committee of Tourisme Montérégie, under the leadership of its president Michel Couturier, the two new routes criss-cross the South Shore, from Varennes to Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu via the Old -Longueuil. In both cases, it is advisable to spread the visits over several days, especially if you want to dwell on the architecture, the stories and the artefacts on display. Also, be sure to check the opening hours, which vary greatly from place to place.
Ms. Côté insists on the heritage and historical value of the stages, going beyond the sole religious framework
Many people have passed in front of the Longueuil co-cathedral of Saint-Antoine-de-Padoue without ever having crossed the threshold. However, it turns out to be steeped in history, and not only linked to religious heritage, since it highlights the beginnings of the city itself.
Here, we discover the path of two important characters, starting with Marie-Rose Durocher, educator and founder of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. A chapel with his tomb has been dedicated to him within the building since 2004, decorated with posters with QR codes to learn more about his history and his work.
“Here, we are on the beginnings of Longueuil. Beyond the characters, we rediscover the local heritage, giving back to the citizens the memory of the city, which is what it is today thanks to these figures, “explains Benoît Laganière, president of the factory assembly of the parish of Saint-Antoine-de-Padoue.
One can only remain blissful in front of the exterior architecture (neo-Gothic style, with neo-Byzantine dome) and interior, impressive and richly decorated. One of its particularities: it houses two organs that can be played in tandem. In the basement is a museum trail retracing the history of the city, from the First Nations to Charles Le Moyne and his fortified castle – now gone –, all while following the thread of period artifacts remarkable. One of the focal points remains another strong figure, having played a key local role, and coming from civil society: Baroness Marie-Charles Le Moyne. “She is the only woman to have been granted the title of Baroness. She wanted to be buried here, with her family,” said Laganière. And his wish has been granted, since his tomb, visible through a bay window, has been installed in the crypt.
For the curious wishing to know more about Marie-Rose Durocher, just take a few steps to the northeast to reach the museum and exhibition center erected in her name. We discover the places where the nun lived, who worked a lot for the education of young girls, furnished with furniture, original clothes, objects and relics of the time. “We present the places where the founder lived from birth to the first residences she founded in six years,” says Sister Lisette Boulé. We can thus survey her room, her office, the chapter room where important decisions were made, as well as the beautifully restored chapel where she prayed. A showroom has also been set up in the basement. We also discover the heritage of the congregation of teachers, who still work today in various parts of the globe. A stone’s throw from the convent, the foundation house is still erected on site. Note that it is necessary to make an appointment for any visit.
Cradled by the St. Lawrence on a peaceful and inspiring site, the Sainte-Marguerite-d’Youville de Varennes sanctuary pays homage to the first nun born on Canadian soil (1701-1771) who was canonized.
Upon arriving, the beautiful Sainte-Anne de Varennes basilica stands out above all, completed in 1887 in a Romano-Byzantine style, built on the birthplace of Marguerite d’Youville. At the back of the building, a chapel has been fitted out to accommodate his granite tomb. Other elements of the basilica are remarkable, in particular its paintings, including the one called Miraculous, dating from the 1730s. Just behind the building, an exhibition room traces the life and work of the devoted Catholic who founded the Sisters of the Charité de Montréal (also called Gray Nuns), recounting its interventions with the poorest, in particular by administering, founding or saving hospital institutions open to the excluded, such as lepers. Several statues in his likeness as well as period objects are presented on the site.
The steps of Saint-Hyacinthe allow you to discover the life of three local figures, in two distinct sites. The first stop is the Saint-Hyacinthe-le-Confesseur cathedral, where the tomb of Louis-Zéphirin Moreau (1824-1901), the instigator of the construction of the building and a man committed politically and socially to the workers, was laid out. Several miracles are attributed to him, including the healing of a little girl suffering from leukemia. The interior of the cathedral impresses with its imposing chandeliers and its dazzling whiteness embroidered with gilding. The second stop is located 2 km away, at the mausoleum-columbarium of the cemetery bordered by rue Girouard. There are two oratories there, dedicated to Élisabeth Bergeron (1851-1936) and Aurélie Caouette (1833-1905), founders of two local communities, respectively devoted to teaching in the countryside and to contemplative meditation. The facilities are minimalist (we learn little about Mother Caouette, whose life was steeped in mysticism), but modern, with period artifacts on display for visitors.
Finally, on the site of the church and presbytery of L’Acadie, in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, we certainly discover Marie-Léonie Paradis, founder of the Little Sisters of the Holy Family, but also the context of the deportation of Acadians in the 18th century. A mural and a memorial are a taste of the visit, which guides in period costume take over. Audio guides are also available. Three buildings can be explored, including the Sainte-Marguerite-de-Blairfindie church, dating from 1801, the Calvary and the presbytery, the latter housing a museum demystifying local life in the 19th century, while exhibiting liturgical vestments and vases.
After restoration work spread over more than a year, the Ursulines chapel in Quebec City has had a makeover by giving a second life to the plasterwork, gilding and coverings of the rood screens, all completed with full painting. Several works of art have also been hung on the walls of the nuns’ choir. On the sidelines, the monastery’s annual cultural program was unveiled, including conferences, concerts, guided tours and immersive sound experiences.