Montreal, Canada: Musee des Hospitalieres
About the Museum:
This museum records the history of The Hospitallers of Saint Joseph, an order founded in LaFleche, France. It’s a good place to get a feel for Jeanne Mance, one of Montreal’s founders. Mance was a pious Catholic, but neither married nor a nun. Born in 1606, Mance served as a volunteer nurse during the Thirty Years’ War, honing her skills on the battlefield.
In 1640, she heard a cousin speaking about Canada. It awakened her vocation, and Angelique Faure de Bullion, a wealthy French woman, gave Mance the money to establish a hospital in Canada.
Mance started dispensary inside Fort Ville-Marie (Montreal’s original name) in 1642. In 1645, she opened the first hospital outside the fort. It had five rooms, including one six-person sick ward. Mance had come to care for the “savages” indigenous to New France. Instead, she tended to colonists wounded by unhappy Iroquois.
After ten years, Mance was ready for some help. In 1658 she sailed to France to bring the first three Hospitaller sisters back with her.
This museum is fascinating if you’re interested in early Quebec, the lives of nuns, and/or medical history. My favorite part was the display of relic artwork. The nuns practiced a craft of rolling up gold-edged papers and making intricate 3-D art pieces with them. They’d insert relics into these paper rolls. The relics were displayed annually for the Feast of Relics. This was a double indulgence day. If you bought an indulgence, you got twice as much for your money. This practice lasted into the 1950s.
There is an admission charge…check their website for details and also hours of operation.
Traveling to the Musee des Hospitalieres:
Address: 201 Pine Avenue West, Montreal (Quebec) H2W 1R5
Tel: +1 (514)849-2919
Click here for the offical website of the Musee Hospitalieres in Montreal.
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