MARY QUEEN OF THE WORLD CATHEDRAL
Inspired by the Italian renaissance revival, Mary Queen of the World Cathedral was modeled after Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome.
Although the interior of the cathedral does not quite match the grandeur of Saint Peter's Basilica, the nave's architectural layout, the white and gold wooden coffered vault, and the baldachin with spiral columns are quite interesting. The curvature of the intersecting vaults almost steals the show from the many paintings and gildings.
Virtual tour of the cathedral (360°)
Virtual tour of the cathedral (360°)
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HISTORYThe cathedral was built in two major stages: from 1870 to 1878 and from 1885 to 1894.
Originally, the church was supposed to face De La Gauchetière Street and the existing town, but the town officials refused the zoning of the land in front as a "public park." The refusal had positive repercussions, though, as the cathedral's facing Boulevard René-Lévesque—one of downtown's major arteries—has its advantages.
The first stone was laid on August 28, 1870. The construction, which would come to a standstill every time there was a shortage of funds, progressed at a very slow pace. In 1878, the building had not yet been covered; the four pillars ready, but the dome was not.
Two events marked this first period: the financial crisis of 1875-1876 (which brought the construction to a halt two years later); and the resignation on May 11,1876 of Bishop Ignace Bourget, who was immediately replaced by his coadjutor, Bishop Édouard-Charles Fabre.
Construction was on hold for seven years, during which Bishop Bourget collected funds to help his successor resolve the financial difficulties of the diocese. Despite his age and frail health, Bishop Bourget visited approximately 150 parishes. He passed away on June 8, 1885, and five days later, his remains were placed in a vault in the unfinished cathedral, where the remains of Bishop Lartigue had been laid after having been exhumed and transported from Notre-Dame-de-la-Pitié Church.
As the cathedral housed the bishops' tombs, it was necessary to hasten its completion, for snow and ice would accumulate between the walls during winter. The construction continued for six years, due mainly to the dedication of the cathedral's procurator, Canon Racicot, and the funds raised by the great bazar of 1886: $27,000.
The dome was completed in 1886. In August of the same year, a wrought iron cross, measuring 18 feet in height and weighing 1,600 pounds, was affixed atop the dome. (It was replaced in 1958 with a 20-foot aluminum cross.)
Archbishop Fabre inaugurated the cathedral on Easter Sunday (March 25, 1894), 42 years after the original cathedral had burnt down. It was the first building in Montreal to have cost more than one million dollars, dominating all the constructions of that time. The people of Montreal were proud to have the only replica in America of Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome.
Not all the work had been completed yet. In fact, the statues on the facade were only completed in 1900, the same year that the baldachin was installed.
On April 30, 1904, Archbishop Paul Bruchési decreed the establishment a parish cathedral, to include sections of Notre-Dame and Saint Joseph parishes.
In 1919, at the request of Archbishop Bruchési, Pope Benedict XV conferred the title of Minor Basilica on Saint-Jacques-le-Majeur Cathedral. In 1933, Archbishop Georges Gauthier, fifth bishop and third archbishop of Montreal, inaugurated the awe-inspiring bishops' mortuary chapel.
Finally, between 1955 and 1960, several restoration works were executed on the cathedral , for which Cardinal Paul-Émile Léger had organized a fundraising campaign. Cardinal Léger also requested that Pope Pius XII rename the Basilica Mary Queen of the World.
On August 20, 1951, Father Giovanni-Battista Montini, the future Pope Paul VI, visited the cathedral. On August 31, 1969 Cardinal Karol Wojtyla also visited the cathedral. No one knew that he would return on September 10, 1984 as Pope John-Paul II, the first pope to visit Canada.
Sunday: 9:30am, 11am, 12:15pm, and 5pm.
Monday to Friday: 7:30am, 12:10pm, and 5pm.
Saturday: 7:30am and 12:10pm.
Hélène Dugal, the cathedral's titular organist, and Alain Duguay, the cathedral's appointed cantor, perform at every celebration.
Le Chœur polyphonique de Montréal (the Montreal Polyphonic Choir), directed by Louis Lavigueur, sings at all the 11am celebrations.
The JXChoeur, directed by Marlène Drolet and Jean-Michel Grondin, perform at all 5pm celebrations.
For more information, please visit the cathedral's website.