Montreal: Sunday at St. Joseph’s Oratory


I decided to play tourist in my own city yesterday so I went to Mass at St. Joseph’s Oratory. The Oratory is always a memorable experience, but yesterday, on the heels of our first heat wave of the summer, with thousands of pilgrims and tourists from all over the world packed in, I think the only way to describe the sensation is, appropriate or not for a house of worship,  hotter than the hobs of Hell! (I know, some say hubs, but I have it on good authority that Hell, like a fireplace,  has hobs, not hubs.) You may have a chuckle or two along the way, but the visit was grand!

St. Joseph's Oratory, Montreal
St. Joseph’s Oratory, Montreal

StJoes_Plaque

Votive Candles
Votive Candles
But the temptation to bellow “Good God, I can see again! I can see again!” while standing in a room full of candles, abandoned crutches from those having been healed, and pilgrims was almost too much.

It was so crowded yesterday that all the candles located down low and reachable had already been lit by the time I arrived at 11:00 am. So I started the trek up the very narrow steps that lead to the upper tiers full of as yet unlit votive candles – I’m pretty sure the guy in front of me was a Sherpa guide. As I got higher the heat became worse, not surprising in a poorly ventilated vaulted room, in Montreal, in July, that is housing  about 8 billion burning candles! The sweat was pouring down my face and into my eyes so much that I had to stop, take off my glasses and wipe the perspiration from my eyes with my shirt tail. At least I think it was my shirt tail, but having my eyes shut tight I can’t guarantee it didn’t belong to the Sherpa in front of me. Once my eyes had been swabbed and my glasses were back in place I was fine. But, I must admit, the temptation to bellow “Good God, I can see again! I can see again!” while standing in a room full of candles, abandoned crutches from those having been healed, and praying pilgrims was almost too much for me to resist. But I didn’t give in!

Abandoned crutches left by cured pilgrims
Abandoned Crutches left by cured pilgrims

 

After cure and crutch abandonment, pilgrims are directed to walk ...
After cure and crutch abandonment, pilgrims are directed to walk …
StJoes_Walk_2
Okay, maybe it’s just a pedestrian walkway sign, but I like my story better.

 

Silence please ... I think!
Silence please … I think!

This sign on the doors to the Basilica, the huge domed room at the top of the Oratory, remind visitors to remain silent. But if you ask me they have left way too much room for interpretation …

 

Basilica altar
Basilica altar
Organ
Organ
Me DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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4 thoughts on “Montreal: Sunday at St. Joseph’s Oratory

  1. It’s been a little over 35 years since I visited St. Joseph’s Oratory. The parts I remember best were the pilgrims going up the stairs on their knees and the relics of your local saint/holy guy whose name escapes me at the moment — Brother Somebody or Another? On another matter, I used to also say (correctly, as you noted) “hotter than the hobs of hell” but these days nobody knows what “hobs” are, so I switched to saying “hubs of hell.” Screw it, I move with the times.

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