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January 25, 2006
From journal Weekend Getaway to Quebec City and Ste. Catherine
April 14, 2002
Built on the ashes of perhaps as many as 4 previous churches this magnificent Cathedral/Basilica has risen like a Phoenix each time to become a landmark to the hardy nature of not only the Catholic Church in Quebec but also of the people she serves.
The original chapel dedicated to Our Lady was built close to this spot, if not exactly on it in 1633. Seven years later it was lost to a totally devestating fire. The church records were reconstructed from memory so there are some missing, especially tragic are the marriage records which usually tell the parents name and place of origin. These now are lost forever.
In 1650 the rebuilding was completed and this church would serve Quebec for 109 years (there were many improvements over the years). It was blown to bits in the British Attack, only the walls remained standing. It was decided to rebuild the Church to the plans of 1743 when major repairs had been undertaken. Construction was completed in 1771 using much salvaged stone from the original.
Again the Church served the people for 151 years, gaining the title Basilica iin 1874. In 1922 fire for hopefull the last time reduced the building to a pile of charred rubble. The original walls and foundation was used as well as the original plans and today this is the church we see.
There are guided tours given of the Basilica and if you want to visit the crypt you must be on one. There are over 900 people buried in the crypt among them Frontenac, Vaudreuil and several of the architects of the Basilica through the years.
You will also want to visit the Francois de Laval Center . This museum dedicated to perhaps the most famous cleric ever to come to Canada. You can see his tomb and also learn about his contribution to the colonization of Quebec. He is now in the first stages of canonization.
Within the church of note are the stained glass windows some of which are German and some French. The organs are also quite famous.
The treasury contains the silver chalice given to Msgr. Laval as a gift from Louis XIV. There are also some very old vestments dating to the early 18th century.
If you want a little more spectacle there is an hourly Sound and Light Show called Quebec in the Limelight. It tells the history of Quebec as well as the history of the Basilica. Its worth seeing especially if you have children.
The Basilica is still very much an active Church and Mass is celebrated here daily.
From journal A weekend in the Paris of the North