Saint Patrick at Saint Joseph’s Oratory
An Irish pilgrim was observing the niches on the walls outside the original chapel. Saint Joseph sits on the facade, while the sides are respectively occupied by Saint John the Baptist and… Saint Patrick. Could the archives shed light on the presence of the patron saint of Ireland?
The Irish community has a long tradition in Montreal. In fact, it is recognized as one of the four founding groups of the City. In the 19th century, the number of Irish immigrants increased to 25% of the city’s population. Irish associations and clubs appear quickly, followed by the Irish figures in our history. St. Patrick’s Parish, where the Basilica of the same name is located, was established as early as 18471.
This means that, at the inauguration of the chapel of the first oratory in 1904, the Irish were present, but one can only speculate on their presence at the Oratory in those early days. Were they on a pilgrimage?
The magazine Les Annales de Saint-Joseph (ASJ) raises the veil on the Irish face of the shrine. Their presence was important, indeed, from the very first years of the shrine. In fact, the first pilgrimage recorded in the publication is that of the “[…] Irish orphans, girls and boys, of the Hospice d’Outremont,” the workings of the Grey Nuns for Catholic Anglophone orphans established in Outremont since 19072.