Sunday, June 08, 2008

Beautiful madness


Pigwotknits not only did the meme, but asked me about the church photo, so I can do that as a first Canada post. [Future posts may be slightly less photo-heavy - I managed to lose my camera, including its lovely new four-day-old case, on the train back from Toronto to Montréal, and nothing turned up at the bureau des objets trouvés. I trekked to Argos on Friday lunchtime for the equivalent model...]

This is the Basilique Notre-Dame de Montréal: also known these days to locals as l'église où Céline Dion s'est mariée - I was told this once by my hosts before going in, and overheard a guide telling a party about it while in the church...

Not that impressive from outside; but the Rough Guide went a bit mad about its Victorian Gothicness - moth, flame, etc...


So I went in; and as I'd just got off the bus from my friends' house in Brossard, I sped through the church pausing only to ooh and aah, and headed straight for the very nice loos at the back, so this post will give you a somewhat odd idea of the geography...

The basement-to-ground-floor windows were impressive to start with - the glass was made up of rough-cut chunks about an inch and a half thick.





The Wedding Chapel/Sainte-Chapelle right at the back (which was actually not où Céline Dion s'est mariée - they had the main church, apparently, as there were so many guests) was stunning. I couldn't work it out until I'd read the guide, because the reredos was so modern:



while the rest of the chapel was so Gothic.



Turns out, though, that although it was built in the late 19th century to the same style as the rest, it was destroyed by fire in 1978 and reconstructed between 1979 and 1982 - while the rest was rebuilt according to photos, the bronze reredos was a new work by Charles Daudelin, cast in England in 32 pieces.

Another couple of photos of the Sainte-Chapelle...




Here's a view from there down into the main church:



and here's a side chapel.



I've a nasty feeling the statue here is an Infant of Prague. I thank the rest of the decoration for not alerting me to this sooner... Don't know why I don't like Infants of Prague, as I have a reasonably highly-developed tolerance for other statuary - they slightly creep me out though... So - look at the pretty architecture!

While we're going for imagery though - here's Ste Marguerite Bourgeoys, first woman Canadian saint (canonised 1982) - two rather different biographies here


There were several altars to her in different churches, and she seems to be dispensing pearls of wisdom to representatives of various First Peoples in each one of them...

But here's the main attraction - the general view is pretty spectacular:

Maybe la Dion knew what she was on about in this matter... (And it's not her fault that the thing I hear every Friday night in life when I leave work is the busker in the Tube station playing My Heart Will Go On on a harp... ) According to this, Pierre Trudeau's state funeral was here, too, which is something they don't mention quite as much...

A bit of history. This was designed by an New York Irish Protestant called James O'Donnell, who subsequently converted so he could be buried in his own creation. It was largely constructed between 1824 and 1829 but the towers were built in the 1840s (the East tower is called Tempérance, for any Kathy Reichs fans out there...) and the interior decoration was completed between 1874 and 1880, by Victor Bourgeau.

It was only about 9:30 on a slightly grim Monday morning at this point, so there were very few people around, which was fabulous. There were so many beautiful details to stare at, like this paintwork on pillars

and ceilings...

And as with seriously good Victorian Gothic, everything was all-of-a-piece including the exits (apart from the illuminated "SORTIE" notices, of course...)

I think this is quite the most beautiful church I've ever been in. And I've been into lots of churches. There are various photos of my brother and me as teenagers sitting sulking on steps outside churches all over France, but we did go into many, many more...

Next up, Vieux-Montréal, and some yarn!!

4 comments:

jayne said...

Love the photos-looks like you had a great time. Thanks for tagging me - I was really pleased as I'd never done one before, but I've just pposted my answers if you want to take a look.

Wibbo said...

Now that's what I call a decent bit of Victorian Gothic! Sorry to hear about the camera....

Knitman said...

I did a road trip in 97 and it included driving from Quebec City to Montreal to Ottawa to Toronto. Your pictures are gorgeous. I didn't see this at all. It was winter and I was too thrilled with just driving and seeing the views.

Pig wot flies said...

Wow, what a stunning building. If I'm ever in Montreal...
Thanks Liz!