Saint Joseph's Oratory
History and museums
Saint Joseph's Oratory of Mount Royal (French: Oratoire Saint-Joseph du Mont-Royal) is a Roman Catholic minor basilica and national shrine on Westmount Summit in Montreal, Quebec. It is Canada's largest church.
In 1904, Saint André Bessette, C.S.C., began the construction of St. Joseph, a small chapel on the slopes of Mont Royal near Notre Dame College. Soon the growing number of the congregation made it too small. In 1917 a larger church was completed that had a seating capacity of 1,000. In 1924, the construction of the basilica of Saint Joseph's Oratory was commenced; it was finally completed in 1967.
Father Paul Bellot, an architect, completed the dome of Saint Joseph's Oratory between 1937-39. The dome is the third-largest of its kind in the world after the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro in Côte d'Ivoire and Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome.
In 1949-1951, architect Gilbert Moreau carried out alterations and improvements to the interior of Saint Joseph's Oratory, as well as to the adjacent monastery, and rearranged the sacristy in the basilica.
The basilica is dedicated to Saint Joseph, to whom Brother André credited all his reported miracles. These were mostly related to some kind of healing power, and many pilgrims (handicapped, blind, ill, etc.) poured into his Basilica, including numerous non-Catholics. On display in the basilica is a wall covered with thousands of crutches from those who came to the basilica and were purportedly healed. Pope John Paul II deemed the miracles to be authentic and beatified Brother André in 1982. In October 2010 Pope Benedict XVI canonized the saint.
A reliquary in the church museum contains Brother André's heart, which he requested as a protection for the basilica. More than 2 million visitors and pilgrims visit the Oratory every year. It is located at 3800 Queen Mary Road, at Côte-des-Neiges (near the Côte-des-Neiges metro station).
Composer Émilien Allard notably served as the church's carillonneur from 1955 to 1975. For RCA Victor he released the LP album Carols at the Carillon of Saint Joseph's Oratory for which he wrote the arrangements.
On October 19, 2004, the Oratory held its centennial. All the bells of all the churches on the island of Montreal were supposed to ring at 9:00 a.m., though not all churches participated. At 9:05 a.m., the basilica rang its bell in response and celebration.
In 2004, the Oratory was designated a National Historic Site of Canada on the occasion of its 100th anniversary.
On 2 April 2004 Canada Post issued 'Saint Joseph's Oratory, Quebec' in the 2004 Tourist Attractions series. The stamp was designed by Catharine Bradbury & William Stewart based on a photograph by Bernard Brault. The 49¢ stamps are perforated kiss cut and were printed by Lowe-Martin Company Inc.