The Spanish Flu

Since its foundation in 1904, the Oratory has closed its doors to the public only three times. Aside from the current closure due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Oratory also closed its doors for one week during the 1998 ice storm.

Also, as history’s most fervent supporters will recall, an even earlier event caused the closure of all public places in Montreal from October 13 to November 3, 1918.

The Spanish flu struck and, in Montreal alone, more than 3,000 people died from it.

The Oratory was doubly affected, both by the closure of the shrine and then by the death of its first rector, Father Georges-Auguste Dion, CSC, on October 8 at the age of 66.

Even if we cannot attribute his death with certainty to the Spanish flu, he was still a victim of it since two days before, the Directors of the Hygiene Office forbade the Oratory to welcome the crowds.

Thus, the funeral was held behind closed doors with members of the clergy, including Archbishop Bruchési, then Archbishop of Montreal.

Père George-Auguste Dion
Extrait chronique de l'Oratoire
Annales de saint Joseph

And as proof that deception in times of crisis is a thing of the past, the 1918 issue of L’Oratoire magazine warned against a company that sold a remedy made by a certain Father André!

Mise en garde grippe espangole