Montreal’s St. Joseph Oratory ( Oratoire St-Joseph ) is a great basilica with a giant copper dome built in honor of St. Joseph, the patron saint of Canada. It is recognized as one of the great spiritual centers of the world and also one of Montreal’s most popular attractions. The St. Joseph Oratory attracts more than two million visitors a year. At 263 meters (863 ft.), the shrine of St. Joseph is the highest point in Montreal. Its dome, at 97 meters (313 ft.), is second in size only to St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. It is one of Montreal’s most recognizable landmarks along with the Notre-Dame Basilica.
Facts About The St. Joseph Oratory
The St. Joseph Oratory was built between 1924 and 1967, although work on the Oratory began in 1904. It is 124 meters (406 ft.) tall, making it taller than St. Paul’s in London, Notre-Dame in Paris and St. Patrick’s in New York City. And because it was built so high up on Mount Royal, the cross on top of its dome is actually the highest point in the city of Montreal. The basilica of the St. Joseph Oratory cans accommodate up to 10,000 visitors.
The St. Joseph Oratory and Brother André
The St. Joseph Oratory was founded by Brother André, a beloved monk who was known as the miracle-worker of Mount Royal because of his healing abilities. Over the years, the Oratory has gained the reputation of a Roman Catholic shrine. Visitors from all over the world visit the site to be cured of diseases and purify themselves. The Oratory receives so many visitors that its interior is filled with discarded wheelchairs and crutches.
The Buildings of The St. Joseph Oratory
The St. Joseph Oratory consists of various buildings and attractions built one on top of the other. Some of the fascinating sites of the Oratory include:
- The Votive Chapel is a contemplative space containing 10,000 “vigil lights” or candles.
- Brother André’s tomb, which is located just off the chapel and happens to be a popular spot for pilgrims.
- On the other side of the chapel is the crypt, a church built in 1916 and a statue of a statue of St. Joseph.
- A terrace with a spectacular view off to the northwest of Montreal.
- An exhibit on Brother André’s life.
- The basilica itself – which happens to be an enormous, spacious church
Climbing The St. Joseph Oratory
Because the St. Joseph Oratory is built on the side of a mountain (Mount Royal), there are many steps leading from the main street, Queen Mary Road to the door of the basilica. In fact, there are 283 steps from top to bottom. Many devout believers actually climb up its hundred and more stairs on their knees to come and pray where Brother André actually performed miracles. The center of the steps is reserved for pilgrims who choose to climb up on their knees, pausing to pray at each step. To make the climb easier, there are elevators and escalators available as well as a shuttle bus from the Queen Mary entrance.
Stunning Views of Montreal
The Oratory provides spectacular views of the entire island of Montreal. The view from the basilica is impressive, and in 2013 a new rooftop observation point will be open to the public. Other names of the St. Joseph Oratory include L’Oratoire Saint-Joseph du Mont-Royal and The St. Joseph Oratory of Mount Royal.