The Roland Gauthier Archives and Documentation Centre has been able to continue a project to describe old photos thanks to a grant from Bibliothèques et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ). This year, 1581 photos were added to the 844 photos processed in 2021.
These photos come from 18 series on the following themes: the opening of Brother André’s tomb, the Original Chapel at different periods, the phases of the construction of the Oratory, the construction of the loft organ, the installation of the Beckerath Organ and its concerts, special events in the Basilica, aerial views of the Oratory, and the Oratory’s religious.
This post presents my research process, some of my discoveries and my favorite.
A Listening Ear
If you go to pray in front of the urn that contains Brother André’s heart, you have behind you one of three scenes representing episodes from his life: his doorkeeper’s quarters at Notre-Dame College, from which he often contemplated the new Oratory; the office where he welcomed so many pilgrims; the hospital room where he died.
Of the three, the one that strikes me the most is the second one, and here is why. We see the little brother standing there, his eyes bright and welcoming. He listens attentively to the person who speaks to him. He has received so many pilgrims for over thirty years!
In June 2022, I was invited to the city of South Bend, Indiana (USA), to attend a conference on religious archives. The event was held on the campus of the University of Notre Dame. This institution shares some commonalities with Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal. First, it was founded by a Father of the Congregation of Holy Cross, Father Édouard Sorin (1814-1893). Like the Oratory, the university was placed under the protection of the Congregation of Holy Cross. But above all, Brother André is very present there.
In the Votive Chapel of Saint Joseph’s Oratory, eight prayer stations remind us of the different titles under which we can ask for Saint Joseph’s intercession for our many needs: comforter of the suffering, hope of the sick, protector of the church, patron saint of the dying, terror of demons, support of the family, strength of the pure in heart.
The family is a reality, a natural institution that is found in all cultures, even if family life is lived differently in different places and times.
It is undeniable that our family life marks us deeply. There was a time when grandparents, parents, children and here and there an aunt or uncle lived in the same house every day. Nowadays, this intergenerational dimension is less present. But the family network still has a certain influence.
Every year, the Roland Gauthier Archives and Documentation Centre welcomes interns as part of their studies in archival science, library science or document management. It is with pleasure that we share with you the text of Marc-André Ouellette, our intern in 2022.
That morning I was to preach on the Gospel of the Multiplication of the loaves. Now I didn’t feel like talking about the parallel between the multiplication of the loaves and the Eucharist yet. As I reread the Gospel, another clue emerged with the seven loaves.
We are in a desert place, far from any settlement. For three days a huge crowd has been following Jesus without eating. Jesus is moved by compassion. But how to feed all these people? The apostles have only seven loaves of bread. So Jesus asks them to bring them to him. The disciples comply. Jesus blesses the seven loaves and asks the apostles to distribute them. Not only do they feed the crowd, but they collect seven baskets of leftovers! Because they put their poverty at the service of Jesus, he was able to do wonders.
In the spring of 2020, the Museum of Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal was scheduled to present an exhibition entitled “Solargraphy in the Cityville“.
However, the exhibition did not take place due to the Covid-19 pandemic, as the Oratory closed its doors on March 19, 2020, the same day as Saint Joseph’s Day!
The previous year, Fabrice Lassort, a French artist-photographer, had come to Montreal on several occasions to carry out a project in collaboration with the Marguerite-Bourgeoys Historic Site and its Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel as well as Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal.
Since I started working at the Oratory almost five years ago, one thing I have noticed is that for many people, pilgrims and employees alike, the Oratory is a family story. During our archival exhibitions, many people have approached us to tell us how their grandparents participated in the construction of the Oratory, how an elderly uncle was healed by Brother André, or their fond memories of visits with their parents in the 1950s.
This year, Lent begins on March 2nd with Ash Wednesday. A period of forty days is proposed to us to live a spiritual journey that will lead us to the great feast of the Resurrection, that of Easter. We begin this period with an invitation to be converted and to believe in the Good News of the Gospel.
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