Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 15, 2006
Quebec church honours the sea
Traditional 214-year-old stone church houses dramatic paintings
Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde – May 24
By TED FITZGERALD
- Photo by Ted Fitzgerald
The stone Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde Church includes a wooden bell tower.
Inside, the overriding theme of the décor of the off-white, gold trimmed nave is the divine protection of seafarers, particularly through the intercession of Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde. She is prominently portrayed in an 1893 painting by Sister of Charity Marie-de-l'Eucharistie above the main altar, standing, a serpent beneath her feet, holding the Christ Child who in twin supports a long, cross-topped staff.
Another painting, on the south wall, shows a crowned, seated Mary holding a royal sceptre with Jesus on her lap. Elsewhere, statues of Our Lady occupy places of honour in the church, one with the Christ Child holding a ship's anchor.
On the north nave wall, a dramatic painting depicts a familiar biblical story, the saving of a doubting Peter by Christ when he begins to sink beneath the waters of the Sea of Galilee.
Since its beginnings, Notre-Dame has been part of a three-church group that includes the Basilique-Cathedrale Notre-Dame-de-Quebec and historic Lower Town Notre-Dame-des-Victoires, sharing some activities and a parish bulletin with them.
Masses are celebrated weekday afternoons or evenings including Saturday, and at 8:30 and 11 a.m. on Sundays.
Today, tiny Cap Blanc still retains its physical connections with the sea as evidenced by the landing facilities here for the largest cruise ships, the Queen Mary in 2005, for example, at the Chantier Maritime, the old customs docks, just west of the church.
After taking advantage of the quiet of the picturesque church between river and cliff for a few moments of prayer and meditation, visitors are ready to return to the constant activity of Quebec's Lower Town Quartier Petit-Champlain, a two-kilometre riverside walk along rue Champlain and Champlain Blvd, a much more efficient but definitely less scenic route to the colourful church of Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde.
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