Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel

Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel is the Oldest Chapel in Montreal.

This unique jewel of history and heritage has made its way into the hearts of generations of visitors and pilgrims and as they step into the chapel, they feel its peaceful atmosphere and a palpable link to Montreal’s past. The chapel was built in 1771 over the ruins of the first stone chapel of pilgrimage, erected in 1675 and destroyed in 1754, when fire ravaged the site. Visitors can see two paintings by Ozias Leduc on the back wall. One of the paintings shows Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve, founder of Montreal, who donated the land for the original chapel.

The other is a portrait of Marguerite Bourgeoys, the first teacher and founder of the Notre-Dame congregation. In 1655, Marguerite Bourgeoys rallied the colonists to build a chapel of pilgrimage outside the settlement. The chapel was a favourite place of prayer for sailors. The carved replicas of sailing ships hang from the vault of the chapel as a reminder of their faith in Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours, Chapel of the Sailors.

Along with the chapel, the little statue has an interesting history. After the fire of 1754, both the statue and its reliquary were found intact among the smoldering embers. After the fall of Montreal to the British in 1760, the British garrison included Irish and Scottish families of Catholic faith who attended services at Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours (it was from this community that money was raised to begin construction of Saint Patrick’s, Montreal’s first parish for the English-speaking community).

Under the choir loft, guests spot an intriguing painting, the gift of Bishop Bourget in 1849. This votive offering was a gift in thanksgiving for the end of the typhus epidemic that struck Montreal in 1847. Another of his gifts, the statue by Charles Dauphin called Star of the Sea, was raised to the roof of the chapel overlooking the port.

In the crypt located under the chapel, visitors discover a sense of the history of Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel, as beneath the floor of the chapel and accessible to visitors through the Crypt lies a truly remarkable archaeological site. Placed there one by one centuries ago, the stones of the vault remind of the labour it often takes to fulfill a dream.

During the 1996-1997 dig, archaeologists made one fascinating discover after another. To their great astonishment, the painstaking work of their trowels uncovered the foundations of Marguerite Bourgeoys’ little chapel, foundations that had quietly awaited discovery for 325 years.

Address of the Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel:

400 Saint Paul Street East

Montreal, Quebec

H2Y 1H4

Phone: 514 282-8670

chapel bonsecours

Bonsecours Chapel. Photo © ProvinceQuebec.com

chapel

Bonsecours Chapel. Photo © ProvinceQuebec.com

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