Notre-Dame de Québec Basilica-Cathedral
Notre-Dame de Québec Basilica-Cathedral probably is the most extensively expanded and transformed structure in Canada’s history still dedicated to its original purpose.
Notre-Dame de Québec Church was built in 1647 and was given the name Notre-Dame de la Paix. It was the first church to be made of stone in the city. In 1664, it became the first parochial church north of Mexico and was dedicated to Notre Dame of the Immaculate Conception. When the Québec City Diocese was constituted in 1674, it became the Cathedral of its first Bishop, Saint François de Laval. Two hundred years later, Pius IX declared it a basilica, that is a church privileged because of the important number of pilgrimages it draws.
In 1984, Saint John Paul II began his pastoral visit to Canada with a time of prayer inside the Cathedral in order to experience a sense of faith with the people of the community.
The church was bombarded and burned in 1759 during the British siege and then rebuilt according to the original plans. Various parts or decorative components were added during the following decades. It burned once again in 1922 and was rebuilt using the old plans for a second time.
With strong European roots, Notre-Dame de Québec Parish is the ancestor of all the Catholic parishes that have spread across Canada and the United States.
From 1650 to 1898, some 900 people were buried under the cathedral. When the cathedral was rebuilt in 1923, a crypt was added.
Most of the bishops, archbishops and cardinals of the Québec diocese in the crypt as well as four governors of New France : Frontenac, Vaudreuil, Callières and Jonquière.
The church main features are its neo classical facade with its two asymetrical towers, its stained glass windows, its three Casavant organs, as well as the chancel golden sculptures, including a splendid baldachin designed and built by François Baillairgé, a famous French Canadian painter, sculptor and architect. A masterpiece of ingeniosity, it is supported by the chancel walls and stands on sculptures representing angels, which gives the impression it floats above the main altar. This ingenious design was the solution to a very narrow chancel that cannot be covered by a structure supported by columns.
The stained glass windows were designed by the Meyer House in Munich and the Champigneulle House in Paris.