Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of January 12, 2004
Silver roof adorns stone church
Imposing Quebec church named after St. Titus, Paul's loyal disciple
Saint Titus - Feast Day - January 26
By TED FITZGERALD
Special to the WCR
St-Tite-des-Caps is the kind of name that attracts attention. It's attached to a quiet town on the St. Lawrence River north shore highway 138 a short distance east of Quebec City. The church, with the same name, is an attractive silver-roofed stone building that dominates the town from a large, open, landscaped area.
The parish began in 1853 as a mission of nearby St-Joachim. Within 10 years the faithful had opted to name as their patron Titus, early Christian bishop and close associate of St. Paul. His belated elevation to sainthood by Pope Pius IX coincided closely with the establishment of the mission and the "new" saint seemed an appropriate patron. In 1876 St-Tite became a parish in its own right and in 1892 the present church was built.
Titus, not the most popular patron of Canadian churches, is a conspicuous personality in early Church writings. He and Timothy were two of Paul's most loyal and dedicated disciples. After serving as his mentor's secretary, he was named to succeed Paul as shepherd to the people of Crete, becoming the island's first bishop.
Much of what is known of the saint is to be found in the two letters of Paul to the Corinthians, the Acts of the Apostles and Paul's letter to him, his " - true child of mine in the faith that we share" (Titus 1.4). He worked diligently for the success of the early Church and was frequently called upon to arbitrate between dissenting groups.
Bishops Titus and Timothy share a common winter feast day where the first readings are from 2 Timothy 1:1-8 or Titus 1:1-5.
Ste-Tite-des-Caps is in an area where the old King's Highway had to leave the Beaupre shore to avoid a series of precipitous headlands and capes where the Laurentian Mountains meet the St. Lawrence River. This "r‚gion des Caps" and the local name for the Royal Highway - Chemin de Caps (Capes Road) gave the name to the little settlement 500 metres up in a mountain pass.
As with many parishes in today's Quebec, St-Tite shares a pastoral team with three other churches. Organized from Eglise Notre-Dame du Saint-Rosaire in Beaupre, 7 p.m. weekday Masses are rotated between here, St-Joachim, St-Ferreol and St-Tite parishes from Monday to Thursday. Two weekend Masses are held in each of the four churches. Despite the reduced schedule, many lay organizations are alive and well at St-Tite.
Promptly at 6:15 p.m. Thursdays, the sacristan arrives, tidies up the large parking lot, opens the church and turns on the lights in preparation for the weekly 7 p.m. Mass.
Newcomers, on entering, are immediately attracted to the old white reredos behind the altar. It's a flamboyant work of art with gold and red ornamentation. Lamp-bearing angel statues flank it and direct attention above the tabernacle to a statue of St-Tite.
Wearing colourful red and blue vestments he bears the insignia of a Cretan bishop - miter, crozier and book of Gospels.
His is a place of honour inside a little baldachino supported by red and white candy-striped pillars and the saint is accompanied left and right by two more censor-bearing angels.
Over the years, the town of St-Tite-des-Caps has become a popular base for year-round outdoor activities, situated as it is in the mountains, the region des Caps. And for those anxious to attend more than one weekday Mass, a 15-minute downhill run will get travellers to the Shrine of St-Anne-de-Beaupre where many Eucharistic celebrations take place daily.