Notre-Dame Basilica, Old Montréal
Across the square from the Bank of Montreal Head Office Building that we looked at last week, you’ll find the the city’s most famous and quite possibly most beautiful catholic church, the Notre-Dame Basilica.
Note: In case you’re wondering these pics were taken back in mid-March when there was still snow on the ground.
If you are a well-to-do or famous Catholic French Canadian living in the Montreal area, chances are that at least one of your important life events, baptism, wedding, or funeral, will be celebrated in this glorious building.
The first Notre-Dame chapel in the French settlement known as Ville-Marie (later renamed Montréal) was built on this site in 1657. It was later expanded as a much larger Baroque style church between 1672 and 1693.
By 1800 it was becoming clear that the congregation had outgrown the existing building and it was gradually decided that a new much larger church needed to be built.
In 1824 an Anglican Irish-American architect named James O’Donnell was commissioned to design the new building. O’Donnell’s design was inline with the Gothic Revival style that was popular at the time.
The bulk of the exterior construction took place between 1824 and 1829 using locally quarried stone.
The sanctuary was completed in 1830, the first tower in 1841 and the second in 1843.
Sadly O’Donnell did not live to see his work fully completed. He died in Montréal in 1830. Just prior to his death though, he had converted to Catholicism, perhaps due to the realization that he might not be allowed to be buried in his church which was his greatest work.
To date he is the only person buried in the church’s crypt.
With a total capacity of about 2,700 sinners 😉 Notre-Dame was the largest church of any faith in all of North America for about 50 years after its completion.
The interior, which I’m saving for another post later this year, mainly because I haven’t gotten the quality shots I want yet, was completed between 1872 and 1879. The majestic Casavant Frères pipe organ was installed in 1891.
Here’s the door to the much smaller chapel built onto the rear of the building to accommodate smaller services.
Okay, I dug up one old shot from my archives of the interior to tease you with – but I am going to get much better shots the next time I go – I promise!
As always, thanks so such for visiting 🙂
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