In the rear of the Basilica, in a small apsidal chapel, rests a remarkable and particularly precious object for the Congregation of Holy Cross: the original tombstone of its founder, Blessed Basile-Antoine-Marie Moreau. The story of its journey is relatively enigmatic.
In 1904, Brother André Bessette, a Holy Cross religious, created a shrine to Saint Joseph in Montreal. Every March, the patron saint of the universal Church is celebrated there. Did you know that Blessed Basile-Antoine Moreau, who was born in the Sarthe department in France in 1799 and was the founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross, is considered one of the forerunners of devotion to Saint Joseph in the 19th century?
The anecdote may make you smile, but the coincidence is quite singular. While the concrete for the roofs of the new reception pavilion has been poured for a few days, 85 years ago, almost to the day, the concrete for the Oratory’s dome was completed.
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.
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.
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.
We are sometimes asked if marriages have been celebrated at Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal. Because of its status in the Roman Catholic Church, the shrine cannot celebrate marriages. Thus, unlike the archives of a parish church, the shrine does not keep marriage records. But then, why do some people persist in claiming to know someone who was married at the Oratory?
It is sometimes disconcerting for researchers who frequent the shrine archives to note that Brother André’s name is rarely mentioned in the official publications of the Oratory. He does appear here and there, but only on very rare occasions and no article is specifically dedicated to him.
The Oratory’s archives contain a unique treasure: a collection of 10,000 photographs, taken mainly at the Oratory and dating from 1904 to 1980. Created by the religious of the Congregation of Holy Cross, as part of their duties at the shrine, this collection presents different aspects of the Oratory’s history: the evolution of the site, the life of Brother André, the employees, important visitors, small and large events, etc. These were subdivided into 307 thematic series a few decades ago.
A whole adventure was played out in the pages of the magazine L’Oratoire during the year 1954.
Appointed editor-in-chief of the publication in September 1953, Father Émile Legault, CSC, published an editorial in January 1954 in which he declared that “it is time, more than ever, for a crusade for the rejuvenation of Saint Joseph. Father Legault does not mince his words: speaking of a play he is composing on Saint Joseph1, he expresses the desire to “correct the adulterated image” of Joseph, an image inherited from the theatrical plays of the Middle Ages called the Mistères.2.
The Oratory Museum is proud to take part in the exhibition Italian Montréal at the Pointe-à-Callière Museum in Montreal. Eleven works from our collection, by artists of Italian origin established in Quebec such as Joseph Guardo, Guido Nincheri, T. Carli and E. Dini & Cie are presented. Here is a glimpse of what you can see between now and January 9, 2022.
On December 8, 2020, Pope Francis invited us to a year dedicated to Saint Joseph.
We were astonished to discover, while browsing through the Annales de l’Oratoire Saint-Joseph that the year 1921 had also been consecrated to Saint Joseph by Pope Benedict XV. One hundred years to the day from the call of Pope Francis.