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Historical discovery



The renovations that took place in the fall of 2011, more specifically in the Notre- Dame-de-Lourdes Wing known as the D Wing, brought about an astonishing discovery. The masons, while extracting a stone fixture above the exterior door of the Grand Hall, discovered a small glass bottle which was corked and stamped with the Congrégation de Notre-Dame seal. Denys Chouinard, the head archivist for the CND, was asked to help us with this finding. Surrounded by Sr. Marie-Thérèse Lavallée (Soeur Bonjour) and by Villa Maria's Director General, Marie Anna Bacchi, our expert opened the capsule and uncovered eight medals of St. Joseph, a piece of paper on which was written " À ma très honorée Mère Supérieure " (To my very honoured Mother Superior), a ribbon and another piece of paper containing a small amount of earth. The medals of St. Joseph held the following engravings: on one side " St-Joseph, modèle de pureté, priez pour nous " (St. Joseph, model of purity, pray for us), and on the other side, encircling a guardian angel and a child, the inscription: " Saint-Ange Gardien, soyez mon guide " (St. Guardian Angel, be my guide).


Sr. Annette Courtemanche and Sr. Suzanne Rochon were consulted on the matter. The construction of the wing took place from 1855 to 1857. In 1876, a fourth story was added. Given that the bottle was discovered behind the lintel above the door to the Grand Hall, it is presumed that the capsule was put in that place during the initial construction period, that is either in 1856 or 1857.

At the time, the Mother Superior of Villa Maria was Sister Sainte-Providence (Marie-Louise Donnelly). It was customary to greet the mother superior of a convent with the words "My very honoured Mother Superior". Another tradition was to entrust St. Joseph (the father of Jesus and a carpenter) with the protection of the buildings.

In Soeur Bonjour's words, "This message from another era is a symbolic reminder of St Marguerite Bourgeoys' mission". In 2012, we have witnessed a CND custom that dates back to the 19th century. The mystery remains unsolved... Why eight medals? What does the earth found in the bottle represent? What was the meaning of the ribbon?

We are counting on our readers to come up with the answer to these questions. Please offer your thoughts by writing to

Article originally published in Villa Maria's Newsletter, A Publication for Alumnae, Parents and Friends of Villa Maria Volume 15 - Number 1 - Spring 2012


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