Saint Joseph's Oratory

Saint Joseph's Oratory of Mount Royal, (French: Oratoire Saint-Joseph du Mont-Royal), is a Roman Catholic minor basilica and national shrine on the west slope of Mount Royal in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

History

In 1904, Saint André Bessette, CSC, began the construction of a small chapel on the side of the mountain near Notre Dame College. Soon the growing number of visitors made it too small. Even though it was enlarged, a larger church was needed and in 1917 one was completed - it is called the Crypt, and has a seating capacity of 1,000. In 1924, the construction of the basilica was inaugurated; it was finally completed in 1967. The Oratory's dome is the third-largest of its kind in the world after the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro in the Ivory Coast and Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome, and the church is the largest in Canada.

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 Protestants. On display in the basilica is a wall covered with thousands of crutches from those who came to the basilica and were allegedly 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 to Côte-des-Neiges metro station).

Composer Émilien Allard notably served as the church's carillonneur from 1955-1975. For RCA Victor he released the LP album Carols at the Carillon of Saint Joseph's Oratory for which he wrote the arrangements.

Modern developments

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.

In popular culture

The 1989 movie Jésus de Montréal uses the Oratory as its principal backdrop. A photograph of the Oratory is used for the picture representing Montreal in the Monopoly: Here and Now: The World Edition game.

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