Upon arriving in Montréal, you can the steeples of the church and the many chapels rising above the fortifications (the walls that protect the city from attacks). Virtually the entire population is Catholic and religion is very important to people. Moreover, the clergy plays an important role in society.

To the left of the city, you can see the Convent of the Grey Nuns. This is where Marguerite d’Youville cares for beggars, cripples and the poor. As you enter the city, the Hôtel-Dieu hospital is to your right. It was founded by Jeanne Mance, a secular woman. This hospital is where the sick are cared for. It is now run by the Hospitallers of Saint Joseph. If you go up to Place d’Armes, you will find the parish church. Beside it is the St. Sulpice seminary. The Sulpicians are the seigneurs of the island of Montréal as well as the parish priests. They also have a small school for boys.

Further west, on Notre-Dame Street, is the Recollet monastery. They are chaplains to the soldiers and “friends to the poor.” To the east is the Jesuit monastery. They have a small house and a chapel in Montréal that serves as their home base for their missions among the Indigenous peoples. If you head down St. Jean Baptiste Street, you’ll walk by the convent of the Congregation of Notre-Dame. This congregation was founded by Marguerite Bourgeoys. It is responsible for educating girls. In addition to her congregation, Marguerite Bourgeoys founded a small pilgrimage chapel called the Notre-Dame de Bon Secours. It is located at the east end of town. People go there to pray, thank God and ask him for favours.

The bishop, the head of the church of New France, lives in the town of Québec. Along with the priests and nuns, he is involved in the colony‘s essential services. In fact, the clergy is involved in many aspects of life in New France, including spiritual guidance, education, health care and services to the poor.

Author:  Service national du Récit de l’univers social

See also – Traces of the past: 

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