Montreal: Notre-Dame-de-Bon Secours & Marguerite Bourgeoys Museum
About Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys (1620-1700):
Marguerite was born Troyes, France, and felt called to religious life in her teens. She applied to both the Poor Clares and the Carmelites, but was turned down by both orders….God had other plans for her, as is so often the case when what we think is a disappointment, turns out to be something far greater than we had planned.
In 1654, the governor of French Canada, having met her, invited her to come to Canada and start a school in Ville-Marie (eventually the city of Montreal). At the time there were only a few hundred people there, but it did have a hospital and a Jesuit mission established.
As she started the school she needed help and returned to Troyes to recruit others. She brought back with her a friend and two other women to help teach. As the school grew, they added classes at their school for native children.
She again returned to France and returned with six more young women as well as a letter from King Louis XIV, authorizing the school. At the age of 69, she walked from Montreal to Quebec City in response to the bishop’s request to establish a community of her sisters in that city and founded the Congregation of Notre Dame in 1676.
By the time she died, she was referred to as the “Mother of the Colony”. She was canonized in October 1982 by Pope John Paul II. We celebrate her feast day on January 12.
About the Bon Secours Chapel:
This beautiful chapel is named after Our Lady of Good Help and dates from 1771, although it is built over the ruins of an even earlier chapel, built in 1655 under the wishes of St. Marguerite Bourgeoys.
Upon returning from one of her trips to France in 1673, she had brought along a statue of Our Lady of Good Help to place in the earlier chapel. The chapel burnt down in 1754, but the statue was miraculously preserved.
Montreal was captured by the British during the French and Indian War, and the church was used by Irish and Scottish troops.
Later, in the 19th Century, the chapel became known as a place of pilgrimage for seamen who offered prayers to the Virgin of Good Help for their safe arrival in Montreal. In 1849 The Bishop of Montreal donated a statue of Our Lady of Good Help that was placed on top of the Church. The Chapel is often called the Sailor’s Church due to the connection with the port of Montreal.
Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys’ body is entombed in the church, having been brought back from France in 2005.
Marguerite was canonized in 1982. Her Feast Day is January 12.
Traveling to Notre Dame de Bon Secours in Montreal:
Address: 400 Saint Paul Street
GPS coordinates: 45° 30′ 35.7624” N, 73° 33′ 4.0644” W
Tel: +1 514.282.8670
email: [email protected]
Click here for the official website of Notre Dame de Bon Secours in Montreal.
The Chapel also houses the Marguerite Bourgeoys Museum, which is dedicated to the early history of Montreal and especially to the life of St. Marguerite Bourgeoys.
The museum has many magnificent exhibits concerning the history of Montreal and the life and achievements of Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys. It is available for individuals and offers guided tours for groups as well as educational programs for both elementary and secondary school groups.
There is an admission fee.
Click here for the official Museum website.
Photos courtesy of travel writer Teresa Bergen.