Friday, June 22, 2012

Day Seven - Montreal

Stay tuned, you are about to be fascinated by what we have learned and experienced today. Beginning with this fun fact. Did you know Montreal is actually an island, connected to the mainland by 27 bridges and 4 tunnels? The city's name came from Mount Royal, so called for the royal view from "the mountain" located in the heart of the city. Translated to latin = Montreal. Mount Royal park is loved by its residents and has campuses of two universities, as well as two historic cemeteries. Two million people are buried in these cemeteries, including some of Canada's most important politicians and cultural figures, as well as many from Montreal who perished on the Titanic. From the top of Mount Royal we could see much of the city, including the Olympic stadium with a very unique profile. It has the tallest inclining tower in the world - quite a sight on the skyline!

We saw many, many churches - there are over 500 in Montreal. Sadly, because of the decline in the number of people involved in organized religion, a lot of the churches are being converted to condominiums (how many nuns live at the convent? "none"). But the structures are still lovely. We saw many different parts of the city, like the theater district, which is growing by leaps and bounds. Many festivals are held there - most recently the jazz festival and the "Just for Laughs" comedy festival. So much to celebrate. We also saw a bit of the Quartier International, including Chinatown (and the building voted "ugliest in Montreal," with its towering pagodas on top). We then crossed over to Ile Notre Dame, a totally manmade island built for the 1967 World's Fair, built using dirt dug up from the construction of the subway system. Sue Constantinides actually went to the 1967 World's Fair in Montreal with her mom, what great memories. Most of the original structures are gone, and in their place stands a large casino. We crossed back over to the port of Montreal, one of the largest in North America, and into Vieux Montreal (which you will remember from yesterday's lesson means Old Montreal). Here is another fun fact. Montreal was actually an American city for one year, when Benjamin Franklin and his troops took possession in 1776. We strolled for a bit in this area, had lunch and traveled on to our next venue, the Notre Dame Basilica of Montreal.

Entering the Basilica was another OMG moment. This is a very famous church, with a 3 year waiting list for weddings (even for Celine Dion, who was married there). The architecture is "Gothic Revival," with grand works of art and ornate decor. It was even more incredible when our choir performed a 20 minute concert, singing One Faith, One Hope, One Lord and several other favorites. Our tour guide explained to us the importance of the magnificent works of art, especially important at the time it was built because many parishioners in the 1800s did not read. The art provided a universal message, depicting the religious mysteries. The smaller and more modern chapel was breathtaking, with its lindenwood panels and 20 ton bronze artistic representation of the walk of mankind to reach God. The pictures you will see will be beautiful, but please ask your children how it felt to be in this magnificent place, and especially to sing in the Basilica in the midst of this glory.

We headed out of the city and on to our next venue, St. Joseph's Oratory of Mount-Royal. It was founded by Br. Andre, who is said to have brought miraculous healing to many by guiding them through prayer to St. Joseph. Soon, many were flocking to the Oratory, and the building expanded time and time again. It is quite spectacular, and thousands of pilgrims visit each day, some following the tradition of climbing the 282 steps up to the oratory on their knees, symbolizing their prayerful beseeching to St. Joseph. Ouch, that's got to hurt! We decided not to try it.

So, it turns out Montreal is having a record-breaking heat wave. How hot is it, you ask? So hot our hosts opted to serve our supper at the ice rink. Not kidding, we ate at the ice rink! How cool is that? Well, we were cool for a short while, then climbed the 282 steps up to the sanctuary. This concert was a little different because our hosts were from the Boys School, where the kids go through a 2 day audition just to be accepted into the school. They are schooled in music theory and practice 4 hours per day - and next year they will be singing at the Vatican. So performing for them was a little intimidating. But the acoustics were fabulous, and once again the CWS just sang their hearts out. Our audience and hosts were very appreciative. Another amazing opportunity. Our hearts are full, our bodies are weary, our spirits are uplifted.

As a side note, our command of the French language is coming along . . . though our confidence was a bit shaken (OK, maybe our feelings were a little hurt) when we learned people did not realize we were singing in French during Cantique. We learned a new and very useful expression, though. When asked "how are you doing," you reply "Tigidou" (te-guh-doo). Meaning something like "everything is fine." No matter the weather, the sleep deprivation, the little glitches in the schedule, we can truly say tonight, Tigidou. And bon soir.

Click Here for Photos from Day 7

1 comment:

  1. I love it ALL, you are so amazeable !
    But I am so very thirsty and want more & more...
    God bless you.