Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 14, 2005
Seashell water fonts follow theme
Nautical treasures adorn Quebec church honouring St. Joseph
St. Joseph — March 19
By TED FITZGERALD
Special to the WCR
St. Joseph-de-la-Rive, Que.
Nestled between a rare flat area between the north shore mountains and the great St. Lawrence River, St-Joseph-de-la-Rive is a quiet place.
It is reached from local highway 362 by means of two intimidating steep access roads and except for irregular surges of ferry traffic to and from nearby Ileaux-Coudres, it's the epitome of restfulness. About 120 km downstream from Quebec City, it's in the Charlevoix tourist region. The little riverside community takes its name from the parish church which honours St. Joseph.
Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary and earthly father of Jesus, his name figures prominently in the foundations of the Canadian church. He is guardian of the Universal Church and principal patron of Canada and the Archdiocese of Edmonton, among others.
Joseph has been described as the unknown saint because of his limited appearance in the Scriptures. When he is mentioned, it is always in connection with his virtuous acts. His faith was tested when he found himself in a difficult position in connection with the birth of Christ (Matthew 1:18-22).
Although hardly mentioned at Christmas, he was challenged to find accommodation for the Christ child and assumed responsibility for protecting his family from Herod by fleeing to Egypt. The Gospels express (Luke 2:41-50) his and Mary's dismay at temporarily losing Jesus in Jerusalem. Despite his lack of prominence, Joseph has always been considered a model for fatherhood and family values.
Quiet and serene now, his town waterfront was once the scene of intense activity in its role as the area's foremost ship-building centre. This period is recalled in the popular Mus‚e de Charlevoix which includes restored schooners and portrays the town's marine past.
Although only about 75 years old, the church of St-Joseph exudes an aura of antiquity at its tree-shaded site on, appropriately, rue de l'Eglise. White paint suits the simple building with its tiny, crucifix-crowned entry porch and humble clocher.
Entering the church, people bless themselves at the huge seashell water fonts, an introduction to the nautical theme of the interior. The simple altar, bathed in sunlight through clear glass windows, is supported by three large ship's anchors. Behind the altar, the crucifix is suspended from the ceiling, backed by a draped piece of white sailcloth.
Wood relief panels
Artwork in the little nave includes brightly coloured painted wood reliefs with panels depicting the mysteries of the rosary and an interesting portrayal of the Holy Family.
Mary is seated by the hearth in their humble home, Jesus carries a water jug and Joseph, the carpenter, wields a large axe as he trims a heavy timber.
Many visitors to St-Joseph-de-la-Rive will take the time to explore historic Isle-aux-Coudres, a short ferry ride from St-Joseph. It's an entity in itself, with its parish church of St-Louis and 26 km, shoreline road giving access to tiny farms and a variety of craft outlets, produce stands and historic sites.
Like St-Joseph, it has museums highlighting the marine history of the unique island, first visited in 1535 by Jacques Cartier.
Back in St-Joseph, in tune with the indolent atmosphere of the village, and if it's Sunday, visitors may opt to join some of the 200 parishioners after 10:30 a.m. Mass on the extensive raised patio of popular Auberge-de-la-Rive for a traditional fish chowder brunch in parasol shaded ease.
Mass is also celebrated in this parish of the Quebec Archdiocese daily at 7:30 p.m.and the church is open to visitors every day.
Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 -- Western Catholic Reporter
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.