December 13, 2013

Quebec City displays Holy Door

It’s the first and only such thing in North America: a Holy Door.

The thick bronze door, with images of Jesus and Mary carved on either side, is now installed, inaugurated and ready to welcome visitors to Quebec City’s magnificent Notre Dame basilica, the capital for French Roman Catholics on the continent.

There are only six other such doors (porta sancta in Latin) in the world: four in Rome, one each in France and Spain.

They are sanctioned by the Vatican to mark significant jubilees in the history of the church. In the case of Notre Dame, it’s the 350th anniversary of the founding in 1664 of the oldest parish in North America.

The man responsible for the establishment of the first formal parish was the very busy Francois de Laval. He was the first bishop of Quebec, arriving at a time when France’s foothold in North America — Nouvelle France — amounted to some 2,000 souls huddled along the shores of the St. Lawrence River, centerd in Quebec, at the narrowing of the river.

It’s a testament to the challenges Laval faced that the population of the French colony had grown so little in the 50 years since Samuel de Champlain first established a settlement in the vast, hostile territory.

Almost immediately upon his arrival, Laval engaged a power struggle with the political authority in the colony by setting up a religious court to adjudicate sins and crimes.

That tug-of-war between church and state in Quebec would set the tone for the next 350 years that even continues today with the current government’s proposed charter to ensure a secular state.

The official opening of the Holy Door kicks off a year of ceremonies and celebrations to mark the milestone. As yet, those ceremonies do not include a visit from the pope.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg The friendly Commonwealth Games

    The 20th Commonwealth Games are now underway in Glasgow, Scotland, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Quebec's proliferation of festivals

    Woodstock en Beauce celebrated its 20th anniversary this year, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Quebec City's English paper a survivor

    In a city stocked with beautiful, interesting and historic buildings, the five-story gem located at perhaps the busiest corner in Old Quebec doesn't attract much attention, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    June 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Canadian hockey Kings

    As of this writing, the Los Angeles Kings have either already quaffed from their second Stanley Cup or are on the verge of closing out the New York Rangers, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    June 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Remembering the forgotten Empress

    The Titanic gets the most attention, what with the epic drama of the 1912 sinking of an incomparable luxury liner, stocked with celebrities, on its maiden voyage.

    May 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Canadians among TV conspirators

    Call me weird, paranoid, a child of Watergate and Contragate or just a connoisseur of tense political drama, but my current three favorite TV programs are about conspiracies in America, each in a different era of U.S. history, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    May 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Hurons gamble on Quebec

    When we were kids, our parents took us to visit Sainte Marie among the Hurons, the restoration of the settlement French missionaries built in 1639 in what is now central Ontario, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    May 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Canadiens are Canada's team

    The National Hockey League playoffs are underway, and for Canadiens fans, many of whom likely reside in the Montreal "suburb" of Plattsburgh, it is a time of hope and joy.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Big shift in Quebec vote

    Being a man of science, Philippe Couillard, premier-designate of Quebec, chose to use a geological term (though his field is actually medicine) to describe what happened in Monday's election, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Trench warfare in Quebec elections

    I've seen many a Quebec election in my day (I'll skip the "by cracky"), writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    April 4, 2014 1 Photo