An Inadvertent Pilgrimage   Leave a comment

We left Ottawa for Montreal, about a two hour drive. On a hill, we saw the dome of Saint Joseph’s Oratory, a shrine and basilica dedicated to Saint Joseph. We saw a model of it in the Museum of Civilization while in Ottawa. It is among the biggest Catholic churches in the world. We were heading downtown, but we enjoyed admiring it from the hill.

The traffic there is absolutely crazy! I’ve driven in Atlanta and Chicago, which are busy 24×7. I’ve crossed Houston east to west at rush hour. I’ve driven in Tyson’s Corner (a suburb of Washington, DC, with major shopping areas) at Christmas. They are all quiet country roads compared to Montreal. Dense traffic, and, perhaps out of necessity, the most aggressive drivers out there. You get half-a-beat to move, then they are honking or going around you. Cars will slide in wherever they have to, and I got the sense my Ohio plate made me a target. By the time we were leaving Montreal, I was getting the hang of it–the rest of the trip, I would refer to “getting Montreal on someone” when I made an aggressive move.

However, in that first hour in Montreal, I was still in a fairly polite mode. So, I wasn’t able to get over when the highway forked. We wound up making several wrong turns trying to correct. Before too long, we saw signs for the Oratory, so we thought we’d drive by. We turned into a parking lot, and discovered they were charging $5. We all wanted to get out of the car, and I didn’t want to have to explain I was a lost anglophone. I handed over a blue bill and parked.

Saint Josephs Oratory

André Bessette was a lay brother working at the Notre Dame College in Montreal. He had a hard life, and felt Saint Joseph gave him strength at that time. During his fourty years working at the gate to the college, he would meet with people and recommend they pray to Saint Joseph. People would describe how they were cured. In 1904, he started a chapel honoring the saint. He started the construction of the Oratory in 1924, with it being completed in 1939, two years after his death. In 2010, Brother André was canonized, the first Canadian saint of the twenty-first century.

It truly is an amazing building. It is 423 feet tall, and the third-largest dome of it’s type in the world (behind the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro and Saint Peter’s Basilica).
Saint Josephs Oratory, from the Garden

Inside were two sanctuaries. There was mass in the smaller one, but the larger one was open.
Main Sanctuary

Brother André’s more modest chapel is also on site, with many relics from the work he did.
Brother Andre's Chapel

We had heard of Saint Joseph’s and Brother André less than twenty-four hours prior to visiting, and it was completely unplanned. But, it was a magnificent thing to see.
Statue of Saint Joseph

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Posted 2013-07-10 by Mr. Guilt in Summer Vacation 2013

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