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Saint-Denis Parish (Montreal): Art, History and… the Present!

Stéphanie Manseau

On Friday, November 11, the Saint-Denis Parish Council organized a special event. Parishioners and members of religious congregations met with the artist Yves-Daniel Thibodeau, who painted the sixteen panels honouring the founders of the Church in Canada which are found in the choir, transepts and nave of the church situated on Laurier Avenue. In attendance were: Sister Danielle Dubois, Sister Danielle Mineau, Sister Andrée Maheu, Sister Claudette Houle and Sister Michelle Beaulieu.

Yves-Daniel Thibodeau’s presentation was very much appreciated. He talked about his spiritual process which is integral in creating each and every one of his paintings. He then explained every part of his work and the figures depicted, among whom is Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys. This portrait illustrates “the saint holding a book which has a cross on its cover. This represents the Gospel she taught to the children (…) she welcomed in her makeshift school.”[1] In all of his portraits, Mr. Thibodeau included details representing the context of the time and the charism of each of the figures illustrated.

In addition to Marguerite Bourgeoys, Saint Brother André, Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, the seven Canadian Martyrs, Bishop Jean-Jacques Lartigue, the Récollets, Jeanne Mance, Paul de Chomedey de Maisonneuve, Jérôme Le Royer de la Dauversière, Bishop Ignace Bourget, Mother Rosalie Caron-Jetté, Marie Gérin-Lajoie, Marie-Anne Blondin, Marie Rose Durocher, Émilie Gamelin are also illustrated. The foundresses of religious congregations are well represented since “religious communities, particularly communities of women religious, implemented important educational and health care systems in Québec, systems which civil society has inherited.”[2]

The visitors were then invited to walk around the church and admire the panels.

This not so distant past illustrated in painting, once again comes to life thanks to the creativity of Groupe Ado, a group made up of about twenty young men and women who are involved in Saint-Jean-Baptiste Parish. Within the framework of Montreal’s 375th anniversary and with the support of Salt + Light, they will produce six short interactive videos on Jérôme Le Royer de la Dauversière, Jean de Brébeuf, Jeanne Mance, Paul de Chomedey de Maisonneuve, Marguerite Bourgeoys and Amerindian peoples. The videos will all have the same structure: the character and theme, the teams and guests. They will target children and adult audiences alike!

The young people’s enthusiasm was contagious. During the collation that followed, they were able to meet members of various religious communities.

Certainly, like us, you are looking forward to viewing these short videos related to history! In the meantime, if you have not had the pleasure of seeing the panels in Saint-Denis Church, you are welcome to discover them in the video linked below.


[1] Les fondateurs et fondatrices de l’Église canadienne, Video by Mr. Yves-Daniel Thibodeau, presentation held November 11, 2016 at Saint-Denis Church in Montréal.

[2] Ibid.


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