Shrines in Canada
If you have an opportunity to travel to Canada, there are several significant Canadian shrines worth seeing. The following shrines testify to Canada's rich spiritual heritage and are architecturally significant as well.
St. Joseph's Oratory is a magnificent basilica and shrine dedicated to the patron saint of Canada. It is situated on the north slope of Mount Royal and, at 860 feet above sea level, is the highest point in Montreal. It is said to have the second-largest dome in the world, after St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. Founded as a tiny chapel in 1904 by Br. André, a member of the Holy Cross Order of Roman Catholic brothers, by 1922 it had grown into a 5,000-seat basilica.
The carillon found at St. Joseph's was initially designed for Paris's Eiffel Tower but was found unsuitable for that landmark. It came to the oratoryon loan in 1955 and is now a permanent fixture. Carillon concerts are held during the week and on weekends.
The famed Basilica of St. Anne de Beaupré is in the village of Beaupré, about 25 miles northeast of Quebec City, although it is usually included in “What to See in Quebec City” listings. Now quite large, the shrine began as a small monument of thanksgiving. In the 1650s, shipwrecked sailors rescued from the waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence showed their gratitude to St. Anne, mother of the Virgin Mary, by founding a chapel in her name.
This chapel attracted the faithful in such large numbers that within a few years the little wooden structure had to be replaced by a larger fieldstone church. By 1876 the shrine had become the size of a basilica. Destroyed by fire in 1922, it was rebuilt the following year in a neo-Roman style.
Today the basilica can accommodate more than 3,000 and has over one million visitors a year. Some leave behind crutches, canes, and folding wheelchairs as a testament to their faith and the intercession of St. Anne. The fountain in front of the basilica is believed to have healing powers. The shrine is particularly crowded the week before St. Anne's feast day (July 26), as pilgrims make a nine-day novena ending in a candlelight procession on the eve of the feast.
Figure 17-2: Basilica of St. Anne de Beaupré