Notre-Dame de Québec Cathedral Basilica: the oldest church in Canada

The Basilica-Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Québec receives Pope Francis for Vespers with the bishops, clergy and consecrated persons of Canada.

By Francesca Merlo

On Thursday afternoon, Pope Francis goes to the Basilica-Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Québec, where he presides over evening prayer with consecrated persons, seminarians and pastoral workers.

The Pope is to be welcomed by the Cardinal Archbishop of Quebec, Gérald Lacroix and the President of the Episcopal Conference, Mgr Raymond Poisson.

The Cathedral Basilica

The Basilica-Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Québec was built in 1647 and was given the name of Notre-Dame de la Paix.

It was the first church to be built in stone in the city. More than two hundred years later, Pope Pius IX declared it a basilica, due to the large number of pilgrims it attracts.

The church was bombed and burned in 1759 during the British siege and then rebuilt according to the original plans. Various decorative pieces or elements were added over the following decades. It burned down again in 1922 and was rebuilt according to the old plans a second time.

In 1984, Saint John Paul II began his pastoral visit to Canada with a moment of prayer inside the cathedral in order to share the meaning of faith with the people of the community.

The Basilica-Cathedral is located in the heart of Old Quebec and has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Canadian Episcopal Conference

Among those present for vespers in the cathedral later in the day are members of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCBE), which brings together prelates from Latin and Eastern ecclesiastical circumscriptions in the country.

The conference was established in 1943 and officially recognized by the Holy See in 1948 as the Canadian Catholic Conference, taking its current name in 1977.

The National Secretariat is based in Ottawa. English-speaking and French-speaking bishops alternate in his presidency every two years.

Martha J. Finley