Saturday, January 12, 2013

Sat, Jan 12, 2013 - Litany Lane Blog: Cloister, First John 5:14-21, Psalms 149 , John 3:22-30, St Marguerite Bourgeoys, Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel, Congregation of Notre Dame of Montreal, Catholic Catechism Chapter 2:2 The Transmission of Divine Revelation

Saturday, January 12, 2013 - Litany Lane Blog:

Cloister, First John 5:14-21, Psalms 149 , John 3:22-30, St Marguerite Bourgeoys, Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel, Congregation of Notre Dame of Montreal, Catholic Catechism Chapter 2:2 The Transmission of Divine Revelation

Good Day Bloggers!  Happy New Year, Bonne Annee!
Wishing everyone a Blessed Week!

Year of Faith - October 11, 2012 - November 24, 2013

P.U.S.H. (Pray Until Serenity Happens). It has a remarkable way of producing solace, peace, patience and tranquility and of course resolution...God's always available 24/7.

The world begins and ends everyday for someone.  We are all human. We all experience birth, life and death. We all have flaws but we also all have the gift of knowledge and free will, make the most of these gifts. Life on earth is a stepping stone to our eternal home in Heaven. Its your choice whether to rise towards eternal light or lost to eternal darkness. Material items, though needed for sustenance and survival on earth are of earthly value only. The only thing that passes from this earth to Purgatory and/or Heaven is our Soul, our's God's perpetual gift to us...Embrace it, treasure it, nurture it, protect it...

"Raise not a hand to another unless it is to offer in peace and goodwill." ~ Zarya Parx 2012


January 02, 2013 Message From Our Lady of Medjugorje to World:
 "Dear children, with much love and patience I strive to make your hearts like unto mine. I strive, by my example, to teach you humility, wisdom and love because I need you; I cannot do without you my children. According to God's will I am choosing you, by His strength I am strengthening you. Therefore, my children, do not be afraid to open your hearts to me. I will give them to my Son and in return, He will give you the gift of Divine peace. You will carry it to all those whom you meet, you will witness God's love with your life and you will give the gift of my Son through yourselves. Through reconciliation, fasting and prayer, I will lead you. Immeasurable is my love. Do not be afraid. My children, pray for the shepherds. May your lips be shut to every judgment, because do not forget that my Son has chosen them and only He has the right to judge. Thank you."

December 25, 2012 Message From Our Lady of Medjugorje to World:
Our Lady came with little Jesus in her arms and she did not give a message, but little Jesus began to speak and said : “I am your peace, live my commandments.” With a sign of the cross, Our Lady and little Jesus blessed us together.

December 2, 2012 Message From Our Lady of Medjugorje to World:
Dear children, with motherly love and motherly patience anew I call you to live according to my Son, to spread His peace and His love, so that, as my apostles, you may accept God's truth with all your heart and pray for the Holy Spirit to guide you. Then you will be able to faithfully serve my Son, and show His love to others with your life. According to the love of my Son and my love, as a mother, I strive to bring all of my strayed children into my motherly embrace and to show them the way of faith. My children, help me in my motherly battle and pray with me that sinners may become aware of their sins and repent sincerely. Pray also for those whom my Son has chosen and consecrated in His name. Thank you." 


Today's Word:  cloister   clois·ter  [kloi-ster]

Origin: 1250–1300; Middle English cloistre  < Anglo-French, Old French,  blend of cloison  partition (see cloisonné) and clostre  (< Latin claustrum  barrier ( Late Latin:  enclosed place); see claustrum)
1. a covered walk, especially in a religious institution, having an open arcade or colonnade usually opening onto a courtyard.
2. a courtyard, especially in a religious institution, bordered with such walks.
3. a place of religious seclusion, as a monastery or convent.
4. any quiet, secluded place.
5. life in a monastery or convent.
verb (used with object)
6. to confine in a monastery or convent.
7. to confine in retirement; seclude.
8. to furnish with a cloister or covered walk.
9. to convert into a monastery or convent.


Today's Old Testament Reading -  Psalms 149:1-9

1 Alleluia! Sing a new song to Yahweh: his praise in the assembly of the faithful!
2 Israel shall rejoice in its Maker, the children of Zion delight in their king;
3 they shall dance in praise of his name, play to him on tambourines and harp!
4 For Yahweh loves his people, he will crown the humble with salvation.
5 The faithful exult in glory, shout for joy as they worship him,
6 praising God to the heights with their voices, a two-edged sword in their hands,
9 to execute on them the judgement passed -- to the honour of all his faithful.


Today's Epistle -   First John 5:14-21

14 Our fearlessness towards him consists in this, that if we ask anything in accordance with his will he hears us.
15 And if we know that he listens to whatever we ask him, we know that we already possess whatever we have asked of him.
16 If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that is not a deadly sin, he has only to pray, and God will give life to this brother -- provided that it is not a deadly sin. There is sin that leads to death and I am not saying you must pray about that.
17 Every kind of wickedness is sin, but not all sin leads to death.
18 We are well aware that no one who is a child of God sins, because he who was born from God protects him, and the Evil One has no hold over him.
19 We are well aware that we are from God, and the whole world is in the power of the Evil One.
20 We are well aware also that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know the One who is true. We are in the One who is true as we are in his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the true God and this is eternal life. Children, be on your guard against false gods.


Today's Gospel Reading - John 3:22-30

After this, Jesus went with his disciples into the Judaean countryside and stayed with them there and baptised. John also was baptising at Aenon near Salim, where there was plenty of water, and people were going there and were being baptised. For John had not yet been put in prison. Now a discussion arose between some of John's disciples and a Jew about purification, so they went to John and said, 'Rabbi, the man who was with you on the far side of the Jordan, the man to whom you bore witness, is baptising now, and everyone is going to him.' John replied: 'No one can have anything except what is given him from heaven. 'You yourselves can bear me out. I said, "I am not the Christ; I am the one who has been sent to go in front of him." 'It is the bridegroom who has the bride; and yet the bridegroom's friend, who stands there and listens to him, is filled with joy at the bridegroom's voice. This is the joy I feel, and it is complete. He must grow greater, I must grow less.

• Both John the Baptist and Jesus indicated a new way to the crowds. But Jesus after having adhered to the movement of John the Baptist, and after having been baptized by him, advanced a step ahead and created his own movement. He baptized the persons in the Jordan River, when John the Baptist was also doing it. Both of them attracted the poor and abandoned people of Palestine, by announcing the Good News of the Kingdom of God.

• Jesus, the new preacher, had a certain advantage over John the Baptist. He baptized more people and attracted more disciples. Thus, a tension arose between the disciples of John and those of Jesus, concerning the “purification”, that is, concerning the value of Baptism. The disciples of John the Baptist experienced a certain envy and went to John to speak to him and informed him about the movement of Jesus.

• The response of John to his disciples is a beautiful response, which reveals his great spirit. John helps his disciples to see things more objectively. And he uses three arguments: a) Nobody receives anything which is not given by God. If Jesus does such beautiful things, it is because he receives them from God (Jn 3, 27). Instead of having envy, the disciples should feel joy. b) John reaffirms once again that he, John, is not the Messiah but only the precursor (Jn 3, 28). c) And at the end he uses a comparison, taken from the wedding feast. At that time, in Palestine, on the day of the wedding, in the house of the bride, the so called “friends of the bridegroom” waited for the arrival of the bridegroom to present him to the bride. In this case, Jesus is the bridegroom, the crowd is the bride. John the friend of the bridegroom. John the Baptist says that, in the voice of Jesus, he recognizes the voice of the bridegroom and can present him to the bride, to the crowds. At this moment, the bridegroom, the people, leave the friend of the bridegroom and follow Jesus, because they recognize in him the voice of their bridegroom!. And for this reason the joy of John is great, “complete joy”. John wants nothing for himself! His mission is to present the bridegroom to the bride! The last sentence summarizes everything: “He must grow greater, I must grow less!” This phrase is also the program for any person who follows Jesus.

• At the end of the first century, in Palestine as well as in Asia Minor, where there were some communities of Jews, there were also people who had been in contact with John the Baptist or who had been baptized by him (Acts 19, 3). Seen from outside, the movement of John the Baptist and that of Jesus were very similar to one another. Both of them announced the coming of the Kingdom (cfr. Mt 3, 1-2; 4, 17). There must have been some confusion between the followers of John and those of Jesus. And because of this, the witness of John about Jesus was very important. The four Gospel are concerned about giving the words of John the Baptist saying that he is not the Messiah. For the Christian communities, the Christian response, the response of John, “He must grow greater and I must grow less” was valid not only for the Disciples of John at the time of Jesus, but also for the disciples of the Batiste or Cambric community of the end of the first century.

Personal questions
• “He must grow greater, I must grow less”. This is John’s program. Is this also my program?
• What is important is that the bride finds the bridegroom. We are only spokespersons, nothing more. And, am I this?

Reference: Courtesy of Order of Carmelites,


Featured Item of the Day from Litany Lane


Saint of the Day:  St Marquerite Bourgeoys

Feast DayJanuary 12
Patron Saint against poverty; loss of parents; people rejected by religious orders

St Marguerite Bourgeuys
Marguerite Bourgeoys, C.N.D., was the French foundress of the Congregation of Notre Dame of Montreal in the colony of New France, now part of Canada. She lived in Fort Ville-Marie (now Montreal) as of 1653, educating young girls, the poor, and natives until her death at the turn of the 18th century. She is also significant for developing one of the first uncloistered religious communities in the Catholic Church.[3] She has been declared a saint by the Catholic Church.

Bourgeoys was born in Troyes, then in the ancient Province of Champagne in the Kingdom of France, on 17 April 1620. The daughter of Abraham Bourgeoys and Guillemette Garnier, she was the sixth of their twelve children.[4] Marguerite came from a middle-class and socially connected background, her father being a candle maker and coiner at the royal mint in the town. Her father died when she was very young, and her mother followed when Marguerite was 19.

In her early years, Bourgeoys had never held much of an interest in joining the confraternity attached to the monastery in the town of the canonesses regular of the Congregation of Notre-Dame, which had been founded in 1597 by the Blessed Alix Le Clerc, C.R.S.A., dedicated to the education of the poor. The canonesses of the monastery helped the poor, but remained cloistered and did not have the right to teach outside of the cloister. To reach poor young girls who could not afford to be boarded within the cloister as students, they relied upon the confraternity, whose members they would educate in both religion and pedagogy. It seems, however, that she had a change of heart on 7 October 1640, during a procession in honour of Our Lady of the Rosary. Her response to this experience was to seek to give herself wholly to God and to live a life that mirrored, as much as possible, that of the Virgin Mary.

By chance, the Director of the confraternity, Mother Louise de Sainte-Marie, C.R.S.A., was the sister of Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve, the Governor of Fort Ville-Marie at the time. During a visit to France in 1652, de Maisonneuve stopped in Troyes to visit his sister. Mother Louise and several of the canonesses enthusiastically volunteered to accompany him back to New France to teach its children. He told them, however, that the colony was still too fragile for the establishment of a community of cloistered women to provide education, but a laywoman would be welcome to teach the children of the settlers and of the indigenous peoples. Bourgeoys was the leader of the confraternity and it was she who was ultimately chosen for this task. At the age of 32, having been refused admission to the Carmelite nuns, she agreed to accompany Maisonneuve to the colony.

In February 1653, Bourgeoys set sail on the Saint-Nicholas from her native France along with approximately 100 other colonists, mostly men, who had been recruited and signed to working contracts.[5]

Life in the colony

Upon her arrival in the port of Quebec City on the following 22 September, Bourgeoys was offered hospitality with the Ursuline nuns there while transportation to Ville-Marie was arranged. She declined the offer and spent her stay in Quebec living alongside poor settlers.[6] This hints at her character and the future character of her congregation in Montreal - a secular and practical approach to spreading God's will. She arrived in Ville-Marie on 16 November.

Though this period of Bourgeoys' life in New France pales in comparison to her later years in terms of expansionary scope and influence, it is often seen as much more intimate. Bourgeoys would have known practically everyone in the colony.[7] However, she also faced difficult struggles during her first years there. There were no children to teach due to the high levels of infant mortality, which frustrated her plan to provide education. Despite this, she took it upon herself to help the community in any way she could, often working alongside the settlers.

During these early years, Bourgeoys did manage to make some significant initiatives. In 1657 she persuaded a work party to form in order to build Ville-Marie's first permanent church - the Chapel of Our Lady of Good Counsel (French: Bonsecours).[8] She was provided with a vacant stone stable by de Maisonneuve in April 1658 to serve as a schoolhouse for her students.[9] This was the beginning of public schooling in Montreal, established only five years after Marguerite's arrival.[10] Today a commemorative plaque marks the site of the stable school in Old Montreal. It can be found on a wall just below the southwest corner of Saint-Dizier and Saint-Paul Streets.

Soon after receiving the stable, Bourgeoys departed for France with the goal of bringing back more women to serve as teachers for the colony. Her success in doing exactly that put her in a position where she was able to house and to care for the "King's Daughters" (orphan girls sent by the Crown to establish families in the colony) upon their arrival from Europe.[8] Marguerite and her four companions were also responsible for examining the male settlers who arrived seeking a wife.[8]


The small group began to follow a religious way of life, establishing periods of common prayer and meals. The women, however, would spend time on their own in various towns throughout the colony, teaching the local children. During this three-year period, Bourgeoys and her small community sought various forms of official recognition and legitimation from both the Crown and the religious establishment in New France. In 1669, Bourgeoys had an audience with the colony's highest religious authority, François de Laval, the Apostolic Vicar of New France. He ultimately granted her wishes through an ordinance that gave permission to the congregation Notre-Dame to teach on the entire island of Montreal, as well as anywhere else in the colony that saw their services as necessary.[9] The bishop, however, later attempted to draft a Rule of Life for the community which would have imposed enclosure upon them.
In 1670 Bourgeoys set out once again for France, this time with the goal of gaining an audience with the King to protect the unenclosed nature of her community. She left with no money or clothing, only with a letter of recommendation by Jean Talon, Royal Intendant of the colony, in which he declares her great contribution to its future. By May of 1671, she had not only met with Louis XIV, but had obtained letters patent from him which secured the viability of her community in New France as "secular Sisters". In fact, the French monarch went so far as to write that: "Not only has (Marguerite Bourgeoys) performed the office of schoolmistress by giving free instruction to the young girls in all occupations (...), far from being a liability to the country, she had built permanent buildings (...)."[9]

Golden Age

Helene Bernier refers to the future saint's work after 1672 as the "Golden Age" of the Congregation.[9] During the period, Bourgeoys' work as educator expanded rapidly in response to the growing needs and demands of the colony.

Though she always devoted the majority of her efforts to helping the more needy members of society, she also established a boarding school at Ville-Marie so that more affluent girls would not need to venture all the way to Quebec for their education. She went on to establish a school devoted to needle-work and other practical occupations for women in Pointe-Saint-Charles. Other smaller schools were also established and run by other members of the Congregation in places such as Lachine, Pointe-aux-Trembles, Batiscan and Champlain. In 1678, Marguerite also expanded into Native societies, setting up a small school in the Iroquois village of "la Montagne" (Montreal).[9]

Marguerite made a third trip to France in 1680 to protect the uncloistered character of her institution and seek additional members. Bishop Laval, also visiting France, forbade her to bring back any new recruits. However, the recruitment of Canadian-born women into the congregation assured the survival of her work. Though Bourgeoys may have returned to New France somewhat frustrated with the bishop, her influence continued to grow in the colony.

The 1680s saw the congregation grow significantly and finally gain a strong foothold in the city of Québec. The new bishop in the colony, Jean-Baptiste De La Croix de Saint-Vallier, had been impressed with the vocational school that Bourgeoys had established in Ville-Marie and worked with her towards establishing a similar institution in Quebec. A large number of sisters were also brought to Île d'Orléans to help the growing community in that area. In 1692, the congregation opened a school in Quebec that catered to girls from poor families.[9]

Final Years

After originally attempting to step down in 1683, Marguerite relented and stayed on as the figurehead of the Congregation until 1693. Though she had removed herself from a leadership position, her presence could still be felt and she attempted to help her sisters retain the spirit which had characterized the Congregation from the start. Bourgeoys and her colleagues were able to keep their secular character despite efforts by Bishop Saint-Vallier to impose a cloistered life upon them through a merger with the Ursulines. On July 1, 1698, the congregation was "canonically constituted a community".[9]

The last two years of Marguerite Bourgeoys' life was devoted primarily to prayer and the writing of her autobiography, of which some remnants remain. She died peacefully in Montreal on 12 January 1700. Her likeness, painted by Pierre Le Ber immediately after her death, speaks of the compassion that animated her life. The portrait can still be seen in the Marguerite Bourgeoys Museum.

Veneration and canonization

Before Marguerite Bourgeoys received official recognition in 1982 as a saint in the Catholic Church, many people had already looked upon her as having the virtues of one. The day following her death, a priest wrote, “If saints were canonized as in the past by the voice of the people and of the clergy, tomorrow we would be saying the Mass of Saint Marguerite of Canada.” Helene Bernier writes, "[P]opular admiration had already canonized her 250 years before her beatification.[11]

Numerous stories are associated with the time preceding her death. The elderly Sister Bourgeoys was said to have given up her life to God in order to save that of a younger member of the Congregation who had fallen ill. After intense prayer, it is said that the young nun was cured and Marguerite fell terribly ill, dying soon thereafter.[11] Her appeal continued after her death, as she was well known and highly regarded. The convent held an afternoon visitation open to the public; people treasured objects that they touched to her hands at this time, which became considered spiritual relics.[11] Her body was kept by the parish of Ville-Marie, but her heart was removed and preserved as a relic by the Congregation.[11]

Marguerite was canonized by the Catholic Church as the first female saint of Canada in 1982; the process began nearly 100 years before in 1878, when Pope Leo XIII gave her the title of "venerable" via papal decree. In November 1950, Pope Pius XII beatified her, giving her the title "Blessed Marguerite Bourgeoys".[11] On 2 April 1982, Pope John Paul II issued the Decree of Miracle for a cure attributed to her intercession; on 31 October that year, she was canonized as Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys.[12]


"It is true that all I have ever desired most deeply and what I still most ardently wish is that the great precept of the love of God above all things and of the neighbour as oneself be written in every heart." The Writings of Marguerite Bourgeoys, p. 187

"God is not satisfied if we preserve the love we owe our neighbour; we must preserve our neighbour in the love he ought to have for us." The Writings of Marguerite Bourgeoys, p. 170

"It seems to me that we do not pay enough attention to prayer, for unless it arises from the heart which ought to be its centre, it is no more than a fruitless dream. Prayer ought to carry over into our thoughts, our words and our actions." The Writings of Marguerite Bourgeoys, p. 169

"Teaching is the work most suited to draw down the graces of God if it is done with purity of intention, without distinction between the poor and the rich, between relatives and friends and strangers, between the pretty and the ugly, the gentle and the grumblers, looking upon them all as drops of Our Lord’s blood." The Writings of Marguerite Bourgeoys, p. 201

"It seems to me that we are charcoal ready to be kindled and that Holy Communion is entirely suited to set us on fire. But when this charcoal is kindled only on the surface, as soon as it is set aside, it is extinguished. On the contrary, that which is fired all the way to the centre is not extinguished, but is consumed." The Writings of Marguerite Bourgeoys, p. 204

"When the heart is open to the sun of grace, we see flowers blossom in their fragrance; these are seen to have profited by the word of God." The Writings of Marguerite Bourgeoys, p. 205


On 30 May 1975 Canada Post issued 'Marguerite Bourgeoys, 1620-1700' designed by Jacques Roy based on a painting by Elmina Lachance. The 8¢ stamps are perforated 12.5 x 12 and were printed by Ashton-Potter Limited. [13]


  1. ^ a b Marguerite Bourgeoys (1620-1700) - biography, Vatican News Service
  2. ^ Terry N. Jones, “Saint Marguerite Bourgeous”,, 11 January 2010, accessed 6 February 2010
  3. ^ Simpson, Patricia. "Marguerite Bougeoys and Montreal, 1640-1665", (Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press), p.6
  4. ^ "Marguerite Bourgeoys", Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online.
  5. ^ Simpson, Patrcia. "Marguerite Bourgeoys and Montreal: 1640-1665", (Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press, 1997) p. 101
  6. ^ Simpson, Patricia. "Marguerite Bourgeoys and Montreal: 1640-1665" , (Montreal: McGill-Queens Press, 1997) p. 105)
  7. ^ Simpson, Patricia. "Marguerite Bourgeoys and Montreal: 1640-1665", (Montreal: McGill-Queens Press, 1997) p. 8
  8. ^ a b c "Marguerite Bourgeoys," Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g "Marguerite Bourgeoys", Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online.
  10. ^ Simpson, Patricia. "Marguerite Bourgeoys and Montreal: 1640-1665", (Montreal: McGill-Queens Press, 1997) p.117
  11. ^ a b c d e "Marguerite Bourgeoys", Dictionary of Canadian Biography.
  12. ^ Charlotte Gray, The Museum Called Canada: 25 Rooms of Wonder, New York: Random House, 2004
  13. ^ Canada Post Stamp
  • Congrégation de Notre-Dame
  • Marguerite Bourgeoys Museum
  • Biography, Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online
  • "Marguerite Bourgeoys", The Vatican
  • "Congregation of Notre Dame de Montreal", Catholic Encyclopedia
  • Catholic Forum Saints: Marguerite Bourgeous
  • Sculptor Joseph Guardo - Marguerite Bourgeoys in Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel


Featured Items Panel from Litany Lane



Today's Snippet I: Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel

Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel
The Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel (chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours, "Our Lady of Good Help") is a church in the district of Old Montreal in Montreal, Quebec. One of the oldest churches in Montreal, it was built in 1771 over the ruins of an earlier chapel.

St. Marguerite Bourgeoys, the first teacher in the colony of Ville-Marie and the founder of the Congregation of Notre Dame, rallied the colonists to build a chapel in 1655. In 1673, returning from France, Bourgeoys brought a wooden image of Our Lady of Good Help; the stone church was completed in 1678. It burned in 1754, the reliquary and statue being rescued.

After Montreal was conquered by British forces during the French and Indian War, the church was attended by Irish and Scottish troops and families, and saw fundraising to build Saint Patrick's Church, Montreal's first anglophone Catholic parish.

In the 19th century, the chapel came to be a pilgrimage site for the sailors who arrived in the Old Port of Montreal; they would make offerings to the Virgin in gratitude for her "good help" for safe sea voyages. In 1849, Mgr. Ignace Bourget, Bishop of Montreal, gave the chapel a statue of the Virgin as Star of the Sea, which was placed atop the church overlooking the harbour. Emphasizing the connection of the chapel and the port, the chapel is often called the Sailors' Church.

The chapel now also houses the Marguerite Bourgeoys Museum, dedicated to the life of St. Marguerite Bourgeoys and to the early history of Montreal and the chapel site. Below the chapel, the crypt is being excavated as an archeological site, which visitors can see. First Nations and French colonial artifacts have been discovered, along with the foundations of the first chapel and the fortifications of the colony. The church's prominent spire can also be climbed, offering views of the Old Port and Saint Lawrence River. In 2005, Marguerite Bourgeoys's mortal remains were brought back to the church, where she now lies in the sanctuary.

The church is located at 400 Saint Paul Street East at Bonsecours Street, just north of the Bonsecours Market in the borough of Ville-Marie (Champ-de-Mars metro station).

    Marguerite Bourgeoys Museum (Montreal)

    Opened on May 24, 1998, the Marguerite Bourgeoys Museum is located on the shores of the Saint Lawrence River in the historic centre of Old Montreal. Exhibits focus on Marguerite Bourgeoys, Montreal's first teacher and founder of the Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel, who lived during the 17th century. Displays highlight her accomplishments that recall the great courage of the early colonists who built Montreal.
    In addition, visitors can tour the Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel, to which the museum is connected. This tri-centenary chapel of pilgrimage is Montreal’s first and oldest chapel of pilgrimage.


    Both the Marguerite Bourgeoys Museum and Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel open a window onto Montreal's heritage and religious art, witness to the faith of its ancestors. They also present the life and work of Marguerite Bourgeoys, Montreal’s first teacher and founder of the chapel, in the hope of keeping the charism of this woman alive. Finally, Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel is a place of prayer, worship and pilgrimage. 


    The objective of the Museum is to conserve, document and showcase sacred objects, works of art and other physical witnesses to the religious, social, cultural and educational history of Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel as well as objects connected to the life and work of Marguerite Bourgeoys. The permanent collection of Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel and the Marguerite Bourgeoys Museum includes works on paper of contemporary artists, paintings, sculptures, books, relics and medals and a variety of objects connected to the school.

    Moreover, the museum is the guardian of collections of the Sulpicians, the Congrégation de Notre-Dame and the ministère de la Culture et des Communications. These collections include the works of art and objects in the chapel, objects connected to the life of Marguerite Bourgeoys and to the Congrégation de Notre-Dame, to the teaching of the arts and finally archaeological objects.

    Archaeological site

    Located under the nave of the chapel and accessible through the crypt, the archaeological site of the Marguerite Bourgeoys Museum houses surprising discoveries. During the 1996-1997 dig, the archaeologists uncovered the remains of Montreal’s first stone chapel founded by Marguerite Bourgeoys in 1675. Constructed in fieldstone, the chapel’s foundations are precisely outlined close to remains of First Nations sites among the oldest found in Old Montreal.

    Recognition for a museum

    In 2002, the Marguerite Bourgeoys Museum accumulated significant honours. First, the Prix Ulysse of Tourism Montreal recognized the development and innovation of the Marguerite Bourgeoys Museum in the category of Tourist Attraction – 100 000 visitors or less. In fact, the Marguerite Bourgeoys Museum was singled out for the diversity and quality of its cultural activities and for the beauty of the site.

    Then, the Marguerite Bourgeoys Museum / Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel received the prestigious Phoenix Prize of the American Society of Travel Writers for the renovations and the archaeological research carried out between 1996 and 1998 that made this site an important centre of Montreal’s history and heritage




    Today's Snippet II: Congregation of Notre Dame of Montreal

    The Congregation of Notre Dame of Montreal convent from rue Saint-Jean-Baptiste, ca. 1684-1768, Montreal, Quebec
    The Congregation of Notre Dame of Montreal is a religious community for women founded in the colony of New France, now part of Canada, in 1658. It was established by Marguerite Bourgeoys, who created a religious community for women where the sisters were not confined to a convent but were allowed to live among and help the less fortunate.[1] 

     The Congregation held an important role in the development of New France, as it offered education to girls in their boarding school, watched over newly arrived women, to the colony and served as missionaries to the Aboriginal people.[2] 

     The community's motherhouse has been based in Montreal for over 350 years. Marguerite Bougeoys was canonized in 1982 by the Roman Catholic Church as Canada's first woman saint.

    Origins of the Congregation

    The Congregation of Notre Dame was a previously well funded women’s religious order created in France by Pierre Fourier and Alix Le Clerc; it was committed to education through the organization of the Catholic Church.[3] Bourgeoys joined the externe Congregation following a great spiritual experience in 1640 and a long search for a place within the more conventional contemplative women’s religious communities. As Bourgeoys helped in the Congregation of Notre Dame, she had a vision of a new kind of religious community for women. This new order took Mary, the mother of Jesus, as their role model, considering her to be an actor in the Bible together with Jesus and his apostles. Bourgeoys wanted the women of her new order to be active and among those who needed their help, and not cloistered in a convent waiting for the needy to come to them.[4]

    This vision, together with her experience in teaching and working in the Congregation of Notre Dame in Troyes, France and an invitation by Paul de Chomedey de Maisonneuve, inspired Bourgeoys to head to New France. There in 1657 she established an educative/proselytizing order for women: the Congregation of Notre Dame of Montreal. The Congregation received civil recognition in 1671 from King Louis XIV and finally was granted official status by the Catholic Church in 1698: some 40 years after its creation and only two years before the death of Marguerite Bourgeoys.


    By 1665, the Congregation consisted of Bourgeoys and three other sisters living in Montreal; they taught in a stone building known as the "stable school" established in 1658.[5] The Convent was near the corner of Notre-Dame and Saint Paul Street, in what is now called Old Montreal. As revealed by its architectural plans, the early convent was a private space, secluded from the public life of Montreal. The convent was placed deeply within its own terrain, and its separation from public life was protected by the Hôtel Dieu and the walls that surrounded it.[6] The sisters were provided protection and seclusion whist surrounded by the colony’s merchants and more rowdy inhabitants, such as soldiers and labourers.

    Maison Saint-Gabriel

    The Maison Saint-Gabriel today
    In 1668, Bourgeoys purchased the Maison Saint-Gabriel outside Montreal: a farm property which the sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame operated for nearly 300 years. It was temporary home for some of the King's Wards, also called the King's Daughters, or Filles du Roi. On the property, the sisters produced food and products to support the Congregation of Notre Dame, new settlers and others in need.

    Today the property has been developed as a living museum of farming and historic times. The property, outbuildings and grounds have been restored and expanded, and the museum houses some 15,000 artifacts recreating the feel of the house from the 17th and 18th century.[7]

    Controversy of the uncloistered

    The difficulties of establishing a non-cloistered religious order for women in 17th century New France were considerable. At the time, such independent action by women threatened some men, and the church preferred the regimen of the cloistered nun behind the walls of a convent.[8] Marguerite and the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame of Montreal broke this mold. Before 1698, the first two bishops of Quebec, François de Laval and Jean-Baptiste de La Croix de Chevrières de Saint-Vallier, were ambivalent about the Congregation, failing to understand their need to remain uncloistered. However, they did recognize the societal need for traveling teachers; they counted on Bourgeoys and her sisters to reach the small and dispersed population of Canada in these early years. The sisters were allowed to live a relatively uncloistered life. They were needed to take education to the children between Quebec and Montreal and beyond. If women were to be the educators, Laval and Saint-Vallier reluctantly recognized the sisters needed to be able to travel and live outside a convent.[9]

    By 1694 Bishop Saint-Vallier sent the Congregation a new constitution that imposed more restrictions. The nuns had enjoyed certain freedoms for approximately forty years, and resisted more restrictive and conventional rules.[10] The constitution afforded the Congregation the right to officially declare vows, necessary to gain legitimacy in the frontier society and grow as an organization. It required the sisters to be obedient to and report directly to the bishop of Quebec. The document also required them to take solemn vows, attacked their more secular activities in the convent, and instituted the requirement of a dowry to be donated by new sisters. After a few years of resistance, in 1698 the sisters had to accept Saint-Vallier’s constitution; it had traditional requirements long enforced in Europe. Cloistering was a tradition used to safeguard the chastity of nuns, as well as to encourage a more prayerful way of life.

    After Saint-Vallier’s constitution

    The nuns were to take vows, including a traditional one of stability. This meant that women could not leave the convent at will. The constitution created a hierarchical divide, also traditional, between the women who had taken their vows and those who had not. The bishop imposed payment of a dowry by new recruits. In practice, it prevented attracting women of the lower classes, whose families generally did not have money to contribute. Women who took the oath as sisters became cloistered.

    While the new constitution enforced more traditional conditions, the sisters of the CND maintained some seventeenth-century practices. Many of them continued to teach, travel and lend their expertise to other parishes across New France.


      1. ^ Simpson, Patricia (2005). Marguerite Bourgeoys and the Congregation of Notre Dame, 1665-1700. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press. pp. 5.
      2. ^ Dumont, Micheline (2004). "Congrégation de Notre-Dame," in The Oxford Companion to Canadian History, ed. Gerald Hallowell. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Oxford Reference Online.
      3. ^ Simpson, Marguerite Bourgeoys and the Congregation of Notre Dame, 1665-1700. pp. 6.
      4. ^ Simpson, Marguerite Bourgeoys and the Congregation of Notre Dame, 1665-1700. pp. 6.
      5. ^ Gray, Colleen (2007). The Congrégation de Notre-Dame, Superiors, and the Paradox of Power, 1693-1796. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press. pp. 4.
      6. ^ Simpson, Marguerite Bourgeoys and the Congregation of Notre Dame, 1665-1700., pp. 18.
      7. ^ "History", Maison Saint-Gabriel Website, accessed 6 Feb 2010
      8. ^ Greer, Allan (1997). The People of New France. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. pp. 72–73.
      9. ^ Simpson, Marguerite Bourgeoys and the Congregation of Notre Dame, 1665-1700. p. 6.
      10. ^ Gray, The Congrégation de Notre-Dame, Superiors, and the Paradox of Power, 1693-1796. pp. 19.


      Catechism of the Catholic Church

      Part One: Profession of Faith, Chapter 2:2

      Article 2

      74 God "desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth":1 Tim 2:4 that is, of Christ Jesus.Jn 14:6 Christ must be proclaimed to all nations and individuals, so that this revelation may reach to the ends of the earth:
      God graciously arranged that the things he had once revealed for the salvation of all peoples should remain in their entirety, throughout the ages, and be transmitted to all generations.2 Cor 1:20;