A Bit of Rome in Montreal

IF A VISIT to the Vatican is out of reach, a dozen blocks from Montreal's Basilica of Notre-Dame you'll find Cathedrale Marie-Reine-du-Monde (Mary Queen of the World). Built in the 19th century and restored in the mid-20th, this cathedral-basilica of Montreal is a scaled-down replica of St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican.

While the height and diameter of the cupola are about half the size of St. Peter's, the area of the church covers about one-fourth of the original's. Considering the grandeur of the model, this scale version is rather impressive.

Beneath the cupola, there's a faithful copy of Bernini's bronze Baldacchino (altar canopy). This hand-formed reproduction, complete with the famous twisted support columns in red copper and gold leaf was made in Rome in 1900.

Likewise, the stately tomb of Bishop Ignace Bourget, who planned and began this cathedral, also originated in Rome, and rests on full display in an impressive side chapel together with Montreal's other bishops and archbishops.

An exquisite sea of marble, much in pale green and sand shades, flows from the sanctuary to aisles and side chapels, such as the Relic and Marriage Chapels.

Prominent along the aisles are several oversized paintings that commemorate Jesuit Sts. Jean de Brebeuf and Gabriel Lallemant, who were early martyrs, Bl. Mother Marguerite D'You ville, and Bl. Marguerite Bourgeoys who was Montreal's first teacher and foundress of the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame.

Mary was named as patroness of the cathedral in 1955 (the earlier titular saint was St. James the Greater), and she is honored with a statue behind the main altar depicting her as Queen of the World.

As queen, she must smile upon the bishop's original intent for this cathedral's duplicated design-to show Montreal's loyalty and attachment to the Roman Pontiff.

Joseph Pronechen

Mary Queen of the World Cathedral in Montreal, Canda, is a replica of St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City.