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Home > Catholic Encyclopedia > M > Archdiocese of Montreal

Archdiocese of Montreal

Metropolitan of the ecclesiastical Province of Montreal. Suffragans: the Dioceses of Saint-Hyacinthe, Sherbrooke, Valleyfield, and Joliette. Catholic population, 470,000; clergy, 720, of whom 395 are secular priests. Protestant population, 80,000, composed of different sects. The diocese, separated from Quebec by Gregory XVI (1836), has a maximum length of sixty and breadth of fifty-two miles. (See the official reports of His Grace the Archbishop to the Holy See, in the Archives of Montreal.)

The present article will be divided into: I. History; II. Present Conditions. Division I will be subdivided by periods: A. Before the Cession (1763); B. From the Cession to the Formation of the Diocese (1836); C. From 1836 to the present time (1910), in the last subdivision including an account of the Eucharistic Congress of 1910.

History

Before the cession

On his second voyage (1535), Jacques Cartier, the discoverer of Canada, after stopping at Stadaconè (Quebec), went up the St. Lawrence to the savage village of Hochelaga, now Montreal. It was Cartier, who bestowed the beautiful and well deserved name of Mont Royal on the mountain that overhangs the present city. In 1608 Quebec was founded by Samuel de Champlain. While, in Canada, the youthful colony was endeavouring to live under the rather weak, because too selfish and mercantile, government of the Compagnie des Cent-Associés, the Compagnie de Notre-Dame-de-Montréal was being formed in France. Two men of God, M. Olier, of Saint-Sulpice, and M. de la Dauversière, were the life of this Compagnie de Montréal. They offered themselves without imposing any burden on the king, the clergy, or the people, having as their sole aim, the glory of God and the establishment of religion in New France. This association having addressed itself to M. Chomodey de Maisonneuve, found in him one who would carry out its wishes faithfully. The island of Montreal was purchased from the Compagnie des Cent-Associés, for purposes of colonization (7 August, 1640). On 18 May, 1642, M. de Maisonneuve arrived at the foot of Mount Royal, and landed with Mlle Jeanne Mance, the future foundress of the Hôtel-Dieu. Ville-Marie, as he first named Montreal, was then founded. (See CANADA.) For thirty years an heroic struggle had to be carried on against the Iroquois. In 1653 there arrived Marguerite Bourgeoys, who a little later established the Sisters of the Congregation. In 1657 the first Sulpicians, sent by M. Olier on his death-bed, settled under the direction of M. de Queylus. From that time the spiritual wants of Montreal have been entrusted mainly to the Fathers of Saint-Sulpice (see CONGREGATION OF SAINT-SULPICE). It was at Montreal that Dollard formed his famous battalion in 1660. There also, Lemoyne and, before him, Lambert Closse, after Maisonneuve, had won great distinction.

M. de Queylus, the Sulpician, had come to Canada as Vicar-General of Rouen (1657). Rightly or wrongly, the Archbishop of Rouen believed that Canada was subject to him in spiritual matters, as the missionaries had gone thither from his diocese; neither the pope nor the king had raised any objection. Mgr de Laval arrived at Quebec in 1659. M. de Queylus, not having been informed directly, either by the Court or by the Holy See, of the nomination of Laval by Alexander VII, hesitated a moment before yielding up the spiritual rights which he believed to be his (see LAVAL; SAINT-SULPICE). On 28 October, 1678, Mgr de Laval erected canonically the parish of Notre-Dame at Montreal, which was naturally confided to the Sulpicians. From that time to the cession, the successive curés were MM. François Dollier de Casson (30 Oct., 1678); François Vachon de Bellemont (28 Sept., 1701); Louis Normant (25 May, 1732); Etienne Montgolfier (21 June, 1759). The third successor of Mgr de Laval, Mgr Dosquet, from 1725 till 1739 Coadjutor, and later Bishop, of Quebec, was an old Sulpician from Montreal. In 1682, the Recollects were called to Montreal. From the time of their arrival at Quebec in 1615, these religious had been travelling through the country, and one of their number, Father Viel, had perished, with his disciple Ahuntsic, in the Sault-au-Recollet, near Montreal, both victims of the treachery of a Huron.

The Jesuit missionaries constantly journeying through these regions, frequently passed by Montreal in these early days. It was in 1669 that the Prairie de la Magdeleine was established south of Montreal. This Jesuit Mission was transferred later to Sault-Saint-Louis, now Caughnawaga. The house, and the desk at which the celebrated Père Charlevoix wrote his "Relations", are still to be seen there. It was there, too, that the saintly Iroquois, Catherine Tegakwitha, lived. The Iroquois mission of Caughnawaga has lately been again taken under the care of the Jesuits. Mlle Mance had founded the Hotel-Dieu, on her arrival, in 1642. In 1658 the Venerable Marguerite Bourgeoys established the Sisters of the Congregation, for the instruction of young girls. Then, in 1738, Venerable Marguerite Dufrost de la Jemmerais (the widow of d'Youville) laid the foundations of the Institute of the Grey Sisters. The superiors of Saint-Sulpice, in addition to being curés of Notre-Dame, were also vicars-general of the Bishop of Quebec. After the vistory of Wolfe over Montcalm on the plains of Abraham and the capitulation of Quebec (1760), Mgr de Pontbriant, the last bishop of the French period, withdrew to the Sulpicians at Montreal.

From the cession to the formation of the diocese (1836)

Montreal remained a part of the Diocese of Quebec until 1836. The curés of Notre-Dame during this period were after M. Montgolfier, MM. Jean Brassier (30 August, 1791); Jean-Auguste Roux (24 Oct., 1798); Joseph-Vincent Quiblier (12 April, 1831). The Treaty of Paris (1763) provided that the Canadians should enjoy "the free exercise of their religion, as far as is permissible under the laws of Great Britain". A great struggle followed. The Sulpicians of Montreal, as well as the Recollects and the Jesuits, were forbidden to receive any additions to their ranks. They had numbered 30 in 1763, but in 1793 there remained only two, who were septuagenarians. The British Government, however, at that time allowed the French priests who were driven out by the Revolution to settle in Canada, and of the thirty-four who came twelve were Sulpicians. In 1767 the College of Montreal was founded by the Sulpician, M. Curatteau de la Blaiserie. In 1765, the Hotel-Dieu, and in 1769 the establishment of the Sisters of the Congregation, which had been burnt, arose from their ruins, thanks to Saint-Sulpice. In 1801, Mgr Plessis (b. at Montreal in 1763) was consecrated at Quebec. This was the great bishop (1801-1815) who fought so ably and so resolutely for religious liberty. The clergy of Montreal supported him. Mgr Plessis, having asked for auxiliaries, obtained, among others Mgr Provencher for the West and Mgr Lartigue, a