Every traveler to Montreal includes a visit to Saint Joseph’s Oratory on their list of must-see attractions. And even though so many attractions end up being tourist traps, the old Oratory is authentic and well worth the trip. These are some intriguing details regarding Saint Joseph’s Oratory you might not be aware of.
1. It is Canada’s biggest church
The biggest church in the nation is Saint Joseph’s, measuring over 73,463 square feet. It is also one of the fifty biggest on the planet.
2. It was established in 1904, although it took a long time to complete
Saint André Bessette established the endeavor in 1904 in honor of his patron saint. The project took thousands of employees over six decades to finish because of its enormous dimensions. In 1967, construction was completed.
3. It is Montreal’s tallest structure
Due to a regulation that forbids the development of structures higher than the mountain’s height of 232.5 meters above sea level, Montreal does not have many skyscrapers. The Oratory is the highest structure in the city, perched around 30 meters above Mount Royal’s summit.
4. Major improvements are now being done in the church
The 53-year-old building will be renovated as part of a new $80 million project to provide an unrivaled 360-degree panorama of the city’s mountain.
5. The structure was created with the idea of a sunset
The midline of the steps leading up to the basilica is exactly aligned with the setting sun on the summer solstice. People sit on the steps to watch the sunset every year at that time. On the longest day of the year, the church’s main aisle and even the cross over the altar line up with the setting sun.
6. Every year, more than 2 million people come here
In Quebec, Saint Joseph’s is the structure that receives the most visitors.
7. The third-largest dome on Earth is found there
The Oratory boasts the third-biggest dome in the globe and the largest dome of its kind in the Americas. 318 feet high is the outer dome.
8. The basilica has a display of Brother André’s heart
A million people lined up in front of Bessette’s casket as he passed away. His heart is still on exhibit in the oratory, preserved in a formalin solution-filled urn.
In March 1973, the heart was taken, but it was later found in December 1974.