Religious Tourism Itinerary

© Michel Caty - Saint Joseph's Oratory of Mount Royal© Tourisme Montréal, Stéphan Poulin - Notre-Dame Basilica of Montréal© Marguerite-Bourgeoys Museum and Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel - Marguerite-Bourgeoys Museum and
© Tourisme Montréal, Stéphan Poulin - Mary Queen of the World Cathedral© Tourisme Montréal - Madonna della Defesa Church© Tourisme Montréal, Stéphan Poulin - Marguerite-Bourgeoys Museum and Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chap
 


© Michel Caty - Saint Joseph's Oratory of Mount Royal

Montréal’s legacy of religious art, architecture, and music makes it one of the most enchanting cities on the continent.

DAY 1 – OLD MONTRÉAL

First stop is Place d’Armes, where you can admire Notre-Dame Basilica of Montréal, built between 1824 and 1829. The paintings, sculptures, and stained-glass windows that adorn the structure illustrate biblical passages as well as 350 years of parish history. 

Just beside Notre-Dame Basilica is the Saint-Sulpice Seminary, the oldest building in Montréal, erected between 1684 and 1687, and later extended by the Messrs of Saint-Sulpice. The exterior clock dates back to 1701, and is possibly the oldest of its kind in North America.

For an archaeological perspective, the Pointe-à-Callière Montréal Museum of Archaeology and History, a national historic site built above the actual remains of the city's birthplace, provides an authentic showcase covering 600 years of Montréal history, beginning in the 14th century. Here, you will be able to explore the city's first Catholic cemetery, its first marketplace, First Nations artefacts, and much more.

At the Maison de Mère d’Youville, the exhibition In her Footsteps brings you back to the life and residence of Saint Marguerite d’Youville (1701-1771), who founded the Order of Sisters of Charity of Montréal. No less enthralling is the Marguerite-Bourgeoys Museum and Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel, where you can cover more than 2,000 years of religious and colonial history. 

DAY 2 – SAINT JOSEPH’S ORATORY AND MOUNT ROYAL

Spend your second day in Montréal in a part of the city that is, at once, sacred and spectacular. Saint Joseph's Oratory of Mount Royal is one of the world's most visited centres of pilgrimage and underlines the significance that religion has played in the establishment of Montréal. Its founder, Saint Brother André, started its construction in 1904. The massive complex includes a stately building whose dome reaches 97 metres (second only in height to Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome), a small original chapel, a votive chapel, a crypt church, a basilica, and well-tended, colourful, diverse gardens. Its magnificent organs and its carillon comprising 56 bells ring out music from the world's greatest composers. 

Affectionately referred to by locals as "The Mountain", Mount Royal Park is not only one of the city’s playgrounds for admiring nature and outdoor activities, but it is also home to a wealth of religious heritage. On the slopes of Mount Royal are two of the city's oldest cemeteries:Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery (Catholic), and Mount Royal Cemetery (non-denominational but primarily Protestant, and including several small Jewish cemeteries).

DAY 3 – DOWNTOWN

Montréal’s downtown scene is a bustling study in contrasts where the latest architectural marvels soar beside stately Victorian-era residential, civic, and religious buildings. The Musée des Hospitalières de l'Hôtel-Dieu de Montréal traces the intertwining histories of health, medicine, and religion in Montréal, of which the Hospitallers of St. Joseph, whose mission was to care for the sick, played a seminal role.

Inspired by Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome, Mary Queen of the World Cathedral was built in the 19th century in the heart of what was then the city’s Anglo-Protestant sector. This Catholic cathedral contains a superb gilded neo-Baroque baldachin which overlooks the altar. In the transept, paintings by Georges Delfosse illustrate the historic beginnings of Montréal.

Also known as “the Irish Church”, St. Patrick’s Basilica, constructed between 1843 and 1847, evokes the Gothic style of the 14th and 15th centuries. Large pine columns, an oak carving in the nave, and a carved pulpit and choir loft embellish the interior.

The Église du Gésù takes its name from the Roman church in which Saint Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, is buried. Built in 1865 by Irish architect Patrick C. Keeley, it is one of the oldest Baroque style churches in the city.

Built in 1889, St. James United Church has a Gothic style exterior reminiscent of a medieval French cathedral. Originally a Methodist establishment, the interior is designed in "the Akron style" popular with North American Presbyterians, Baptists and Methodists in the late 19th century, but unique in Montréal.

Another fine example of neo-Gothic architecture is the Anglican Christ Church Cathedral, built between 1857 and 1859. Just underneath the church at the Promenades Cathédrale is the Maison de la Bible, a bookstore specializing in religious publications, and just behind the church is a square dedicated to Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish humanitarian who saved thousands of Jews from concentration camps during World War II.