Catholic Church of Montreal > Publications > Info Archives > OCTOBER - One hundred years ago: the blessing of Notre-Dame-des-Sept-Douleurs in Verdun

OCTOBER - One hundred years ago: the blessing of Notre-Dame-des-Sept-Douleurs in Verdun


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One of the unsuspected wealth concealed in our archives are the annual financial reports of our diocese’s parishes. Although, one could easily judge these columns of figures to be of little relevance to the historian, they in fact contain a multitude of details that allow us to better understand the history of Montreal’s parishes. Some parishes were more diligent than others to send copies of these documents to the Archdiocese. Among them was Verdun’s first French-speaking parish who regularly provided the diocese with their annual reports. Consequently, Notre-Dame-des-Sept-Douleurs’ censuses and reports can be found in our archives. They comprise the years during which the construction of the current Church was taking place.

The report of 1914 is of particular interest. This one hundred year old document reveals the sums collected during the last year of the church’s construction. The statistics appearing in this census confirm the significant increase of parishioners attending Notre-Dame-des-Sept-Douleurs during the first fifteen years of the parish. In 1905, because the School Chapel could no longer host all of Verdun’s Catholic families, the construction of a new church had been judged necessary. Following the official approval from the bishopric obtained in July 1911, work began according to the plans of architects Venne and Labelle.

The project, which lasted three years, led to significant expenses. Consequently, the parish acquired an important debt to ensure the completion of the new church. In 1914 alone, more than $ 72,000 (the equivalent of 1.5 million dollars today) were spent for the last phase of construction and the furnishing of the building. This sum allowed, after several years of work, to proceed to the blessing of the church, built over the basement that had been opened in 1905. Altogether, the construction would cost nearly three times and a half the amount invested during the year 1914. However, the financial report allows us to discover that private donations, such as the Stations of the Cross and the electric candelabra, were never included in the total construction cost.

On October 25, 1914, Montreal’s Archbishop Paul Bruchesi, solemnly blessed the new temple during a celebration described at the back of the report by its pastor, Father Richard. The ceremony, which took place in the new church was also an opportunity to mark the 15th anniversary of the parish and the 25th anniversary of Father Joseph-Arsène Richard’s ordination. However, the blessing of the Church did not mean the completion of the project and the end of expenses related to it. In December 1914, when the financial report was published, the parish still hoped to raise the amount required for the purchase of new bells. The acquisition was delayed by the stalemate in Europe of the First World War. As a result, the blessing of the new bells imported from Haute-Savoie in France did finally take place ten years later, in 1924. By then, thanks to the large subscription of 1921-1922, the parish had completely paid its debt.

On the agenda:
To mark the 100th anniversary of the blessing of Verdun’s church Notre-Dame-des-Sept-Douleurs, Archbishop Christian Lépine, will celebrate mass there on Sunday October 26 at 10:30 a.m.

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