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July 8, 2004
From journal The Unpatriotic July 4th Weekend - Montreal
by Re Carroll
Abbotsford, British Columbia
August 4, 2002
It is a huge place and its basilica is second in height only to St. Peters in Rome. It was founded by
Brother Andre, a Quebecois priest who is credited with curing the illnesses of a number of his parishioners. Although he gave the credit for these cures to St. Joseph, he became known as a miracle worker. He died in 1937 and was beatified by Pope Jean Paul II in 1982.
A self guided tour booklet is available for $1.00 and it provides a very easy to follow itinerary that corresponds with numbered signs in the building. In all, there are 16 different points of interest
and you should allow at least an hour.
Many of the exhibits contain information about Brother Andre - his tomb, replicas of his office and even his heart, preserved and displayed in red glass. The original chapel
that he built in 1904 is at the back of the Oratoire and it is very humble compared to the current structure.
I really liked the beautiful stained glass windows in the Basilica. The backgrounds were black and this made the colours, especially red, really stand out. Although the day was a bit
overcast, the view from The Terrace was spectacular and I image it would be breathtaking on a clear day. Nearby, the Gardens of the Oratory were closed but their location on the mountain side would be a nice place for a relaxing stroll with more panoramic views.
The Museum had a large collection of religious paintings, statues and life size wax vignettes. My favourite part was
the extensive display of nativity scenes from around the world. Some were very elaborate and costly. I liked the more humble and whimsical pieces, fashioned from material native to the country or area where it was made. The one from Hawaii was made from seashells, Mexico was a mosaic made with corn and beans, Vietnam used tree roots, South America a mosaic made with corn and beans, Vietnam used tree roots, South America had gourds, Poland had ornate aluminum, Switzerland was wood and there were so many others. The Museum was the only part of the Oratoire with an admission fee, albeit donation only but it was worth it to see
the creches. Unfortunately, flash photos were not allowed so I couldn’t get any pictures. In previous years, the creches were on display from December to February but since they were still there in April this year, they may be making it a permanent exhibit.
The Oratoire is about 6 blocks from the Cote des Neiges metro stop. It’s on Mount Royal, near Universite de Montreal and is open daily from 7 a.m.
From journal Exploring Montreal