Notre Dame Basilica is located in Old Montreal. The basilica had a few incarnations. The version we see today was designed by New York based architect James O’Donnell, an Irish Protestant. The first stone was laid on September 1, 1824. When construction was finished, Notre Dame was the largest church in North America for over 50 years.
O’Donnell is the only person buried in the church’s crypt. Upon his death, he converted to Catholicism.
The floor is slanted so the back of the church has a view of the front. Looking at the intricate details was a pleasure.
The inside took a lot longer to build and Victor Bourgeau worked on it from 1872-1879. John Redpath, a stonemason, also spent a lot of time working on the church.
The 32 foot pipe organ was built by Casavant Freres. Work started on it in 1886 and was completed in 1891. It was the first organ with adjustable combination pedals operated by electricity.
Chapelle du Sacré-Cœur (Chapel of the Sacred Heart) is a smaller chapel for more intimate sized groups. On December 8, 1978 an arsonist set fire to the chapel. It was rebuilt with modern vaulting but the first 2 levels were recreated from photos and drawings. Mass was going on so we couldn’t go in the chapel. We got to walk by and take a peek.
One of the basilica’s most famous celebrity patrons is Celine Dion. She married and baptized her eldest here. René Angélil, her manager and husband passed away on January 14, 2016 and his funeral service was held at Notre Dame Basilica.
This place is rich in Montreal history and architectural awe. The interior is absolutely stunning. We loved how vibrant and alive it felt yet it still had the tranquility of a church even though they cater to tourists as well.