The Sulpicians in Montreal

The Society of Saint-Sulpice is not a religious order but a Catholic Society of Apostolic Life. The Society was founded in Paris by Jean-Jacques Olier around 1642.

Sulpician priest arrive in Montreal in 1657, and establish their first seminary midway between the Hotel-Dieu (hospital) and the fort, near the present-day Place Royal. That was a strategically important point and later, it became the centre of trade of New France. The first Sulpicians were sent by M. Olier on his death-bed.

The head of the first group was M. de Queylus and three priests composed it: fathers Sovart, d’Allet, and Galinier.

However, in 1667, ten years after the arrival of the first Sulpcians, only five priests lived there (Their first site is now occupied buy a 19th-century building). The Sulpicians performed daily services at the town’s only church, the Saint-Joseph chapel of Hotel-Dieu, built in 1656. In course of time, the parish priests of Ville-Marie became the seigneurs of the island of Montreal. As might be expected, the Sulpician Fathers also carried their activities in the missionary field.

On their arrival at Ville-Marie, the Sulpicians found Indians belonging to various tribes, so the Fathers planned to group these Indians together. In 1676, a substantial piece of land situated on the slope of Mont-Royal, was set aside and the priest contemplated building a manor for the missionaries there this plan was soon carried out. A Sulpician father taught classes to the children, while the Sisters of Notre-Dame Congregation looked after the young Indian girls. In 1694, however, a drunken Indian set fire to the establishment.

Father Vachon de Belmont, superior of the mission, rebuilt the manor in stone and added the two round towers, which can still be seen in front of the seminary, on Sherbrooke street, near Atwater metro Station. The Sulpicians organized classes at the Seminary, and a number of Sulpicians were known as school-teachers.

In addition to providing primary education for their pupils, the Sulpicians also taught Latin.

The beginning of the Montreal College must be traced back to that period.

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