The Notre – Dame Basilica in Montreal on the exterior is just another stone church. But on the inside it is by far the most beautiful church I have ever seen.
The blue of the church is the first thing you notice when you enter.
What started as a chapel run by Jesuits was rebuilt into a bigger church by the Suplician Fathers who had come from France with the mission to evangalise the native Indians in Montreal. The new church was constructed in the Baroque style and could seat 300. Right from the start the church was dedicated to Our Lady and hence the characteristic colour , blue.
The parish outgrew the church size. In the harsh Montreal winters people would stand outside the church for Christmas eve celebration. Hence the rebuilding on the church was undertaken. Ironically the council in charge of the new church engaged the services of a famous Irish Protestant architect from New York, James O’Donnell. But the council had the last laugh because before the church was completed O’Donnell had converted to Catholicism.The new church was built in the then popular Gothic Revival style and could seat roughly 3200 people.
Over the years the church has undergone a lot of design modifications. Initially the stain glass painting behind the altar was facing east. So on a sunny Sunday morning the devotees would have the sun on their face. While the faithful remained faithful they had the sun in their eyes. But once the attendance for the mass started diminishing something had to be done. The stain glass was blocked off. Rose windows were built into the vaults above the church and stain glass windows replaced the windows along the sides of the church. This regulated the flow of air and light.Over the years the wooden pillars of the church which gave way have been renovated and filled with concrete on the inside.
The parishioners of Notre-Dame vehemently disregard the claim that their lovely Notre-Dame has anything to do with the other famous Notre-Dame in Paris.
” They share the name and that’s as far as similarities go”, cleared one very passionate parishioner.
If there was a church which has influced the Notre-Dame of Montreal , then it is the Saint Chapelle not too far from the Notre-Dame of Paris!