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Monday, March 30, 2009

De retour à New York

In response to numerous requests (okay, just one) that I post pictures and impressions of my recent Lenten pilgrimage to Quebec, I hereby do so.

Not many pictures, I'm afraid: too often, as is my wont, I managed to leave the camera behind when going out and even when I remembered to bring it, was hesitant to use it inside the several sites visited, considering it rude and distracting to those who are in prayer. I did get some pics, however. The Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré was nearly empty (most certainly not the case, I'm told, in the high season) so I got in a quick shot of a shrine devoted to St. John Vianney, Curé d'Ars, a real inspiration.



Here are some external shots: of the Basilique,



the nearby Commemorative chapel



and chapel of the Scala Santa.



In Quebec City, I attended mass at the Ursuline Convent, as well mass for the Feast of the Annunciation at the Notre Dame Cathedral.

In Montreal, I took in the Basilica Notre-Dame and the Cathedral-Basilica of Mary, Queen of the World, which is a one-third sized replica (but still huge) of St. Peter's basilica in Rome; both were stunning. Also visited was the celebrated St. Joseph's Oratory, which sits atop Mount Royal, built at the behest of Blessed Brother André, porter of the nearby Notre Dame College. While the original crypt is lovely indeed, I found the Basilica above on the creepy side: stark, cold and, I thought, more appropriate for a setting in a Leni Riefenstahl picture.

Also a tad bizarre, on the outside at least, is the Notre-Dame du Cap Shrine, Cap de la Madeleine, the last site I visited.



Construction of the present structure (which replaced this charming little chapel)



took place between 1955 and 1964, which probably was the nadir of ecclesial architecture in North America, so I suppose it could have been a lot worse. Happily, the inside is spectacular indeed, particularly the stained glass.

I will forgo further personal impressions other than to relate a thought I had while sitting in a pew in the Basilique Notre-Dame in Montreal: I have visited and admired churches most of my life but while taking in the glorious riot of color and imagery in the Basilica, I suddenly felt overwhelmed as admiration became infused with gratitude. The knowledge I was now a Catholic made me realize all the sites visited, even the weird ones, were not just churches but my churches. Deo gratias.

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