Friday, 27 June 2008

International Eucharistic Congress: dancing with the saints

These two photographs were taken during our last morning in Quebec. We walked down from our bed and breakfast to the Church of St Michel, in the Sillery area of Quebec. This Church looks out over the St Lawrence River, and is very much associated with the first arrival of Christian missionaries in Quebec. It is the site of a cross which has been blessed as part of the celebrations of the 350th anniversary of the arrival of Mgr Laval, the first bishop of the diocese of Quebec. This anniversary coincides with the 400th anniversary of the foundation of Quebec itself.

In front of the Church is a life size set of statues of the Jesuit martyrs John Brebeuf, Isaac Jogues and companions, who were martyred between 1642 and 1649. Zero is "dancing" with St Charles Garnier SJ. There is a Catholic school named after St Charles Garnier in Quebec - we passed it each day on the bus on our way to the Congress venue.

During the Congress, there was a strong sensitivity to the saints of Quebec. Mgr Laval, the first bishop of Quebec has been beatified. Blessed Marie de l'Incarnation (a street is named after her in Quebec), Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, St Margaret D'Youville were also referred to. These saints and blesseds of Quebec were represented by large marionettes during the opening ceremony of the Congress, the same figures leading the Blessed Sacrament procession through the streets of Quebec on Thursday evening.

At the end of one of the Congress Masses, Cardinal Ouellet announced the acceptance by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints of the completion of the diocesan process for the beatification of another Catholic from Quebec (I can't remember the name, and will post it as soon as I can track it down!).

And in his homily at Mass on the Saturday of the Congress, Cardinal Arinze delineated the saints in whose company the Congress had taken place. His long list included St Thomas More and St John Fisher, whose feast days would have been celebrated on the following day, 22nd June, had that day not been a Sunday.


Anonymous said...

I don't know if any Italians settled in Quebec but do click on to "The Italian church Farringdon " for what looks like a very beautiful church you could flex your Italian at Mass there . Zero degrees

Joe said...


As we learnt during our visit, Church of St Michel in Sillery wasn't always dedicated to St Michael the Archangel!

Its previous dedication was to St Columba, because most of the local population was made up of Irish emigres from the Famine. They worked as labourers along the river. We met any number of Canadians with Irish heritage during our stay in Quebec (to Zero's delight).

The dedication of St Columba was changed to St Michael at some point in response to the wishes of the Quebecois - though the original dedication is recognised by a stained glass border in the doors of the Church made up of alternating maple leaf and shamrock.

Unlike mainland Europe, where the Italians seem to have reached everywhere in numbers, Quebec seemed to be without a major Italian influence.