Quebec expects to draw 300,000 to holy door

July 21, 2014

QUEBEC CITY – More than 100,000 pilgrims have already passed through the holy door in Quebec's Cathedral of Notre Dame and another 200,000 are expected before year end.

The holy door was constructed to mark the 350th anniversary of the founding of the first Catholic parish in North America's first Catholic diocese. It is one of only seven in the world.

The Church in North America was launched from the Quebec Diocese, said Msgr. Denis Belanger, cathedral rector.

Catholic missionaries spread the faith via the great rivers and waterways, Belanger said, noting the Quebec Diocese once extended as far south as New Orleans. The diocese was at that time the largest geographical diocese in the world.

On July 11, Canada's apostolic nuncio Archbishop Luigi Bonazzi celebrated a solemn Mass commemorating the consecration of the cathedral on the anniversary of its dedication.

The first church was consecrated July 11, 1666, but rebuilt and enlarged after fires in 1759 and 1922.

Belanger said the Church in Quebec hopes the holy door will provide a threefold experience.

First, it shows respect for the diocese's history. Second, it acknowledges the present by allowing all people to witness their faith through "a kind of spiritual act or pilgrimage." Third, it offers the future through people who may come as a pilgrim and return home as missionaries.

At the end of 2014, the holy door will be sealed until another jubilee year, perhaps 2025, Belanger said.