Mark Twain once said about Montréal that you couldn’t throw a rock without breaking a stained-glass window. Any visitor who has stood at the top of Mont Royal to gaze across the city will attest to the medley of steeples that punctuate the cityscape.
But why does Montréal have so many churches?
The plethora of churches reflects the diverse cultures that make Montréal home. Over the years, practically every neighbourhood had a need for French and Irish Catholic churches. Add to the mix Anglican, United, Baptist, and additional Christian denominations, as well as more recent Haitian, Chinese, Italian, and other international communities, and suddenly there’s a pulpit for each walk of life.
Which church best suits your needs? Here are six Montréal churches, each accustomed to welcoming visitors and groups.
Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal
Saint Joseph’s Oratory is a Montréal masterpiece — the pièce de résistance among a city of 1000 stunning churches. The oratory is home to a magnificent Rudolf von Beckerath organ, which is ranked among the ten most prestigious in the world. Also, the basilica’s huge dome reaches 97 meters making it second only in height to Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The Oratory’s banquet and meeting rooms — perfect for conventions, conferences, trainings, or family gatherings — can accommodate groups of 10 to 700 people.
The crown jewel in Quebec’s rich religious heritage. Notre-Dame‘s exterior Gothic Revival facade is among the most impressive in the world, while the interior is grand and colourful, with a ceiling coloured in deep blue and decorated with golden stars. The stained-glass windows of the sanctuary do not depict biblical scenes, rather scenes from the religious history of Montréal. Various halls are available for meetings, receptions, concerts, school commencements, and other special events.
One of Montréal’s foremost heritage sites, the Chapel of Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours, offers a number of rooms for a variety of events. Guests will love the panoramic view of Old Montréal and the Saint Lawrence River from the tower of the chapel and the Salle de la Mer. Offer a private concert in Montreal’s oldest stone chapel or hold a reception in the basement of the building — an 18th-century crypt.
Anchored in the heart of the Plateau neighborhood, the Saint John-the-Baptist church is an ideal setting for live music. Musicologists have long appreciated the acoustics of the church, while audiences adore the sacred setting (complete with a ceiling of stunning frescos). From an intimate classical chamber performance to a full-throttle Arcade Fire show — and all stops in between — the church continues to play host to all types of congregations.
St. James United Church
St. James United is the largest Protestant church in Montréal. Built in 1889, this church, originally Methodist, has a Gothic-style exterior and Victorian interior. The space offers several multi-use options, perfect for receptions, presentations, training sessions, meetings, conferences, and much more. Conveniently located in the heart of downtown, the church can accommodate up to 1200 guests.
Located in the creative neighbourhood of St. Henri, Maison Principale is a unique Montréal reception hall that boasts elegant and luxurious details in both its architecture and its functionality. Ideal for a variety of events, ranging from weddings to cocktails, this is the perfect choice for a small group who wants good value in a venue.
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