Notre Dame du Cap-de-la-Madeleine
This part of my journey to Canada was from Ontario to Quebec and brought me to Cap de la Madeleine, east of Montreal and near Trois Riviéres. I was travelling homewards after spending two lovely days seeing the old city of Quebec, the Canadian shrine of St. Anne de Beaupré, and Grosse-Île, the last resting place of so many Irish who left Ireland because of the famine in the years 1845 - 1849.There is within most of us a searching or longing, a reason for being, a need to be in touch with our spirituality, what we are and why we are. For this reason people have always travelled on pilgrimage to various places of worship, to places that remind us a little of heaven, nirvana, valhalla - call it what you will.
Most of us continue to seek out a place of peace, an oasis where we can renew heart, soul and spirit. It can be a retreat to within in the form of meditation or without as a journey. For Christians there are many such places all over the world, found as shrines dedicated to God, Our Lady (Mary, Mother of Jesus) and the saints.
In Quebec alone there are 16 such places of pilgrimage, each one a beautiful and welcoming oasis of peace. Cap de la Madeleine is one such place. My arrival here after the day on Grosse-Île proved to be the section of my journey guided by my guardian angels. It was a part of the journey where I never intended being yet was meant to be.
Sitting on the shores of the St. Lawrence River and midway between Montreal and Quebec, Cap de la Madeleine is a place of peace and tranquillity, serenity and beauty. Its history goes back to 1634 when the area was first settled. The following year the first Jesuit Missionaries arrived to serve the settlers of the new village. The first little timber chapel was built here in 1659 on a small piece of land known as 'Blessed Mary's fief'. 5 years later it was to become the first of Canada's Catholic churches to be dedicated as a Confraternity of the Holy Rosary, a very new form of prayerful devotion to Our Lady at that time.
In 1720 the first stone chapel was built and was known as the "Small Shrine". It still holds this name today and is the oldest church in Canada. The Basilica was built over a 9 year period and opened in 1964. The stained glass windows created by Holland's Jan Tillemans, OMI. are unique in North America and very beautiful. The photograph on the right below shows the Small Chapel in the foreground and the Basilica to the rear.There are many strange and wondrous stories to be told about this place but the most famous is that of The Ice Bridge. Growth of the community necessitated the building of a new church but as the parish was a poor one it was agreed to demolish the old church and re-use the stone along with imported stone from across the river.
The winter of 1878-9 was so mild that no ice had formed on the river so the parishioners began to pray the Rosary for a big freeze to allow the much needed stone to be transported across. Fr. Désilets, parish priest at the time, vowed to Our Lady that if she answered their prayers he would leave the old church standing and dedicate the parish to the Her patronage.Months went by with no ice then in March of 1879 their prayers were answered with the overnight formation of an ice bridge which lasted for 9 days, allowing the transportation of all the necessary stone to commence the building work. The old church was retained and dedicated on June 22nd. 1888 as Notre-Dame-du-Cap.
Since that time the first Marian Shrine in Canada - Our Lady of The Cape - has seen millions of pilgrims visiting here, including Pope John Paul 11. In 1924 a commemoration bridge was built in the gardens with the links from one side to the other as replicas of huge Rosary beads..
Our Lady's Statue in
Saint Mary's Lake.
|The gardens of
this place are wonderful and add to the prayerful atmosphere of the Shrine.
This little pond was made in 1938. The statue of Our Lady in the centre of the island is a focal point for prayerful walks around the perimeter whilst praying the Rosary and the walkway surround is called the Rosary Spring. It is most beautiful when used as part of the candlelight procession at night.
Some Christians of other denominations find Catholic devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary difficult to understand but Her place, when on earth, is highlighted and revered often in Scripture from throughout the Old Testament right through to Revelations.
She is spoken of twice during Christ's agonising journey to His crucifixion. He placed us in her care before His death when He said to His Mother about St. John the Apostle:
" He is your son" and to St. John: "She is your Mother".
Canadians have great devotion to Our Lady and during my trip to Medugorje in 1998 I met a group of Native North Americans from Canada and to see them in National Costume was a rare treat for us from the very edge of Europe.
and culture was brought from Europe to the New World where it thrived in
each small village. Not least among these were their Spiritual traditions,
be it Jewish or Christian.
As the French and other European settlers made their way up the Saint Lawrence River and started developing communities they brought with them their skills, their crafts and their ways. Word was sent from them to Europe requesting Pastors to lead these communities and keep their religious beliefs and traditions alive.
The result was the formation of many French Religious orders and the development of villaes, later to become towns and cities.
Saint Mary's Lake
This is very evident in this part of Canada and the 16 Shrines of pilgrimage in the Quebec region are dotted all along the St. Lawrence river. 7 of them are dedicated to Our Lady and 3 to Her Mother, St. Anne.
Way of the Cross here in Cap de la Madeleine is a beautiful life-sized
set cast in bronze and donated by the parishioners of Saint-Célestine
in France in 1974. They are spaciously placed around the gardens allowing
pilgrims the opportunity to pray the Stations privately or in groups.
Jesus Meets His Mother
This place of prayer and devotion is quiet and peaceful, a salve to any soul and a re-charge for spiritual batteries.
And so I left this lovely place and made my way homewards to Ontario. Brockville of the 1000 Islands was my destination that night and Hamilton the following day. I had no time to visit Montreal or Ottawa properly - I got lost driving through Montreal and that left me just enough time to have supper in Ottawa. Those visits must wait for another time.
And so, this part of our journey concludes, links to the rest of the journey are just below our newsletter subscription.
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The Rest of the Journey
Our Canadian Journey starts with my drive from Hamilton to Quebec and a visit to one of Canada's famous Catholic Shrines - Saint Anne de Beaupré. We have included the Prayer to Saint Anne both in English and in French, stop in a whisper a wee prayer to her. The rest of that day was spent enjoyably wandering aound Quebec CityThe main reason for my visit to Canada came about on the Wednesday and Grosse-Île, a tiny island east of Quebec City and the final resting place of over 6,000 of my country folk. It turned out to be facinating, poignant and yet enjoyable - a visit I will never forget and one I hope to repeat with some of my own family someday.
Finally back to Ontario and a week of relaxation, renewed friendships, joy and tranquillity before heading back home to Galway in Ireland.
For those who have just joined me on this page why not go to the beginning and see some of the earlier places in The Start of Our Journey through the West of Ireland. My Place Amongst the Stones gives the history of my company name, Moytura - a celtic heritage going back thousands of years.
Back to our Irish journey and to my own parish of Lackagh - a small village just 12 miles from Galway with a mighty big history telling a story of one of Ireland's bloodiest conflicts in the 16th century - The Battle of Knockdoe.
From there we move on to take a quick jaunt around Galway City; and then out to the heart of Connemara - with its wild and wonderful beauty.
Our journey goes south into County Clare to see The Burren - a place that has lain undisturbed since the Ice-age and of immense botanical, ecological and archaeological importance.
We visit Ireland's finest early monastic heritage centre in Clonmacnoise in County Offaly and to my favourite of all the early Christian Church locations - Clonfert, with its beautiful tiny 12th century Cathedral of Saint Brendan. Come with me around the grounds of this lovely tiny cathedral and see the 1000 year old Yew Walk. While there, you can learn a potted history of Saint Brendan the Navigator, possibly the first European to set foot in North America in the 6th. century. See how we celebrated a most historic announcement when Clonfert Cathedral was listed in the World Monuments Watch 2000 as one of the world's most endangered buildings.
Join me on my 'Famine Journey' which starts in Westport, moves to Sligo and ends up in Grosse-Île, Quebec.
Finally, come with me on my pilgrimage to a peaceful haven in a war-torn country in Medugorje in Bosnia-Hercegovinia. The other areas of my Web site can be found in the drop-down box below.
If you are interested in Irish history or anything to do with Ireland why not visit our new additions where you will find a large selection of genuine Irish goods as well as Irish reading, music & viewing material!:
Moytura's Irish Store, Moytura's Irish Bookshop, Moytura's Irish Music Store, and Moytura's Irish Video Store
I have added links pages of other places related to the places we visit, links to leisure activities in Ireland i.e. golf, fishing, horse riding, sailing in Ireland, festivals, entertainment etc. and some of my friends' home pages.
Go raith míle maith agat - thanks a million
Beannacht Dé Ort - bain taitneamh as do thuras.
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Every now and then people send me stories, poems, or URLs to other Home Pages that I find very touching or uplifting, they can be found at the links below. Some will make you smile, maybe even laugh, some may make you cry or a little sad - but all will leave a little bit of a mark, if only for the few minutes you spend reading or listening to them. Enjoy - I call this section:
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Celtic Women International is a young and vibrant organisation founded by Jean Bills, a woman with Irish roots living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It is now in growth phase and expanding membership throughout the whole world for ANYONE (yes, even the guys!) with Celtic roots. It's purpose is to honour, celebrate and promote our Celtic Heritage. In the near future we hope to be a resource for all things Celtic with databases of other Celtic Organisations, Support Bodies, Music & the Arts etc. Membership, for only $25!!, incorporates a quarterly newsletter with the finest of articles related all things Celtic.
Our annual conference brings together some of the best advocates of Celtic Traditions as well as musicians and artists representing the recognised Celtic Nations of Ireland, Cornwall, Scotland, Wales, The Isle of Man, Brittany and Galicia and Asturia in Spain. 2002 sees the conference on the move and will be held in New Orleans, 2003 in Toronto, 2004 in Pheonix and 2005 in GALWAY, IRELAND! Please help us to grow this wonderful organisation by joining us as a member. All are very welcome and your presence can only enrich us. Learn all about us at:
Celtic Women International
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The telecommunications industry goes from strength to strength world wide, especially with de-regulation opening up most countries to healthy and cost-cutting competition. The company, for which we are Independent Consultants, has been so successful since its European start-up in 1998 that it has now expanded from the UK to Ireland Belgium, and the Netherlands, with the USA opening in Feb 2002. It plans to expand even further in the very near future - to:
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