The First Cross on Mount Royal

In late December 1642 the waters of St. Lawrence swelled, invades the grasslands around the enclosure, filled the ditch that protected the palisade and knocked on the door of the fort.

In response, Maisonneuve had a cross erected near the St-Pierre River, in the hope that heaven would restrain the flood. He promised that if his wish came true he would carry another big cross up to the top of the mountain.

According to Father Vimont, “just at midnight and just as we were celebrating the Birth of the Son of God on earth”, the waters stabilized and then receded. In the next few days, Paul de Maisonneuve had a heavy cross made and a path cleared. On January 6, 1643 he carried the cross on his shoulders to the peak. Father Francois Du Peron, who was spending the winter in Ville-Marie, said mess.

Today, this first religious procession in Montreal is pictured in a stained-glass window in Notre-Dame Basilica on Place d’Armes. This window shows Paul de Maisonneuve climbing the slopes of Mont-Royal, carrying a heavy wooden cross that he would plant on the mountain top.

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