The Research Collection of Father Roland Gauthier, CSC. The Work of a Lifetime.


Every year, the Roland Gauthier Archives and Documentation Centre welcomes interns as part of their sudies 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.

Roland Gauthier

Archives of Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal

As part of my internship at the Oratory’s Archives and Documentation Centre, one of my tasks was to inventory, process and classify Father Gauthier’s research documents. Seventeen years after his death, Father Roland Gauthier, CSC, (1915-2005) is still present at Saint Joseph’s Oratory. The great architect of the documentation centre on Saint Joseph, rector of the Oratory, father of the Congregation of Holy Cross and a great devotee of Saint Joseph, his curriculum vitae is matched only by the scope of his work.

Between 1952 and 1995, Father Gauthier directed the research centre, always guided by the mission that Father Émile Deguire, CSC, had given him at the beginning of the centre: “Recover all you can about Saint Joseph”. This is what Father Gauthier did during the four decades he spent at the Oratory.

When I received this mandate, Father Roland Gauthier’s research collection (C004) consisted of 32 boxes, more than half of which did not have a label describing their contents. I therefore had to venture into more or less known territory.

The inventory was the first step in this process. My methodology consisted of two main steps: Learning about the history of the centre, its mission, and Father Gauthier’s method of working, and opening each box, exploring the contents, taking notes, and trying to identify broad patterns within the fonds.

This preliminary analysis, which lasted 8 days, revealed some interesting elements.

  1. Father Gauthier was interested in Saint Joseph under two main theoretical axes, doctrine and devotion;
  2. In addition to being interested in Saint Joseph as a person, he was interested in the Holy Family through the prism of Saint Joseph;
  3. Because of his training as a researcher, Father Gauthier was particularly well organized in terms of his documentary series.

When the inventory process was completed, I proposed a classification structure based on my notes and the trends I was able to identify. This structure, composed of 4 major series, each representing an activity reflected in Father Gauthier’s documents and subdivided into several sub-series. The following days were devoted to the physical processing of the files and the creation of brief descriptive notes in the archives’ database.

Père Roland Gauthier, c.s.c.

Archives of Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal

The research collection is composed for the most part of excerpts of texts annotated and commented by Roland Gauthier and his team. From the smallest liturgical verse to long tributes paid by the papacy, including lists of places dedicated to the devotion to Saint Joseph. A true monument of linguistic diversity, it contains texts in Latin, French, English, Spanish, Polish, etc. It is a colossal work whose treatment, although completed, would deserve a more thorough description.

Naturally, the treatment of such a mass of documents brings its share of discoveries and surprises. Since he had to recover everything he could find on Saint Joseph, he sometimes went beyond the strict framework of Catholic doctrine. Thus we find some files dealing with Saint Joseph from the point of view of a Coptic, Nestorian or even Muslim author. But his interest in the apocryphal texts really caught my attention. Apocryphal texts do not even occupy a large part of Father Gauthier’s work. However, in his research on the origin of the cult of St. Joseph, he did consult texts whose accounts do not conform to Catholic doctrine. The apocrypha that most caught my attention was the History of Joseph the Carpenter, a Coptic text dealing with the life of Joseph and the impact it had on Christ. This document is only one stone among many others in the edifice that Father Gauthier has built throughout his career.

The documents in the fonds will not fail to arouse admiration, curiosity or even vertigo for anyone who wants to venture into them. The invitation is extended to all friends and those curious about Saint Joseph.

Saint Joseph

Archives of Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal

Marc-André Ouellette
Intern at the Roland Gauthier Archives and Documentation Centre