My homestead sits three hours away from Boston, New York City, and Montreal. I get over to Boston a few times each year, and there's no doubt it's a vibrant, dynamic city. I've never been to New York CIty, so I cannot speak for the place. I suppose I'm saving it for an epic adventure. And then there's Montreal. I liken it to Toronto, but with much more diversity in language and demographics. The shopping is amazing; Montreal's Hudson Bay is oppressively huge. And the food! We're not talking about Big E fried food anymore. This is world class cuisine with French and American influences. But I'm saving these two favorite pastimes of mine for another post. Let's talk churches! I visited these in October, 2016.
Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral
This minor basilica might be familiar to those who've visited St. Peter's. While Moderna's facade dwarfs this cathedral's rendition by a large margin, it is nevertheless proper for the space. Sitting atop are thirteen statues, each of a patron saint of one of Montreal's thirteen parishes. I admit the my hagiography skills were put to the test trying to identify all of them!
Inside, you'll find an impressive side chapel, the Chapel of the Assumption, as well as nine paintings depicting the Church's early history in Montreal. And there's this little guy:
Yep, that's a baldachin. And if it looks familiar, it's because a much larger version sits above St. Peter's tomb in Rome. This version lacks some features of its predecessor including the childbirth sequence in the plinths; however, it's very, very convincing. It even has bees at the top, a symbol in the Barberini coat of arms (Pope Urban VIII, who commissioned the baldachin, was a Barberini himself).
Saint Joseph's Oratory
Situated on Mont Royal, this minor basilica took over forty years to construct. The interior is austere, to say the least. I guess I would characterize it as "modern". Lots of wooden sculptures. And it's cavernous. Where the Baroque elevates the current space, literally inspiring awe in the worshiper, this type of architecture doesn't evoke much. And perhaps that is by design. By the way, its dome is the third largest in the world. And if you have any affiliation to the Congregation of Holy Cross, you'll be very interested to hear that Saint Andre Bessette of Montreal, who cured thousands through the intercession of Saint Joseph, was instrumental in the construction of this basilica. His body and heart are interred here.
$5. Yep. $5 admission. I've been to churches all over Rome and North America, and this is the first time I've had to ante up to gain admission into a church. I wonder why? Apparently the fee is waived if you are attending mass. With that said, you do get a lot for your $5. The basilica offered tours in different languages. Moreover, everything was in tip-top shape. Very clean. And on top of that, it was definitely one of the coolest sanctuaries I've ever been in!
Gothic churches are a mixed-bag. They tend to be dark, somewhat cold spaces. Also, they kind of all look the same. I suppose I'm being ignorant here, but aside from the altar and side chapels, these big Gothic churches just feel the same to me. But, they do boast some amazing artwork. Take a look at this Bel Composto.
I love the use of light in the basilica. I attended on a dreary day, so there was not much natural sunlight going through the rose windows; however, that did not matter much as the church was adorned with this radiant blue paint. Actually, it reminded me of the color palette of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at the University of Notre Dame.