St-Michel Cathedral of Sherbrooke, the seat of the Archidiocese of Sherbrooke, was built on the heights of the St-Michel cliff just a couple of steps away from the downtown. Perched on an acropolis, the massive fortress-like cathedral overlooks Sherbrooke and its surroundings.
The cathedral reveals the evolutional spirit of its main architect, Louis-Napoleon Audet. The first church at the site of the present cathedral, dedicated to St. Columban, was built in 1826. In 1854, the construction of a new church, dedicated to St. Michel, started.
Costing of $5,200 at the time, the new 41 by 15-meter church became the basilica-cathedral in 1874. Resembling the Cathedral Our-Lady-of-Paris, it, however, remained unfinished, for lack of financing: two small towers had to be built. Pope Pius IX created the Diocese of Sherbrooke in 1874 and Bishop Antoine Racine chose St. Michael as his cathedral.
Construction of a new cathedral began in 1956. To build exterior walls, materials from neighboring regions were used: granite from St. Sebastien, bricks from East-Angus and Richmond, and terra cotta from Terra Cotta Co., Montreal. While the old cathedral faced south, the new chancel faces east. Oval windows give the building a medieval look. The new cathedral was completed in 1957. It received the papal honor of Minor Basilica two years afterwards. The cathedral has 105 stained glass windows: 34 large, 11 medium, and 60 small, created between 1959 and 1965 by the famous glassmaker Raphael Laudeur, from Paris, upon drawings by Brother Gerard Brassard.
A large main altar is installed right in the center of the chancel. The polished granite table, from Chicoutimi, is 12 feet long and 8 feet wide. It is supported by eight onyx pillars from Morocco and two green marble columns from St. Barthelemy. Bishop Georges Cabana consecrated the cathedral in June 1959.
St. Michel Cathedral. Photo: lieuxdeculte.qc.ca