July 23, 2006

It's not Religion, It's Architecture

Catholics! Oh, the Catholics! Despite its totally over-the-top seething enmity against them, perhaps The Da Vinci Code, might expose them (and maybe religion) as just a little more zany than they first appeared.

Montreal is not just home to some of Canada's finest "full touch" strip joints, but also a center of North American Catholic Colonial Culture. The Isle of Montreal's European settlement was precipitated by good French Catholic colonists. This is evident today in dozens of streets named "Saint ... ", lots of churches dedicated "Notre Dame ... (Our Lady - Mary)", and big Catholic cemeteries. As tourists it was our duty to look at history and culture of this fair city, and so my sister dragged me along to lots of churches - not quite entirely realising they were still functional, but also Catholic.

Early Catholics in Australia were not excited wealthy pioneers, but the unseemly mass of Irish convicts - I learnt this being taught by the Christian Brothers of Edmund Rice. In Canada they were funded by Roman patrons like the Medici's. These places were massive. Sure they started out shabby wooden structures (next to the even shabbier homes of shabby pioneers) - but now they are copper crowned stone crafted marvels gutted with glass, glitter and plasma screens (yes, plasma screens).

At the original Notre Dame of Ville Marie (now an official Basilica) we went to the video-light show night (projector, not plasma). It's good to see shoddy Christian acting is cross-denominational. It's probably made slightly more off by the English dubbing.
"Oh Sister Anne, it's so nice to finally have a church for the children of our brave new men in Ville Marie"
"Yes Sister Marie. It's such a glorious calling to serve our Lord."
"Indeed. And we shall serve with strength. We have already come so far from the nunnery in France, but I have a feeling that our adventure is only just beginning"
"Undoubtabley, Sister. We will journey out far and wide to the Native villages, and bring their little Native children here so they can be schooled with the glory of our Lord and savior"
-Oh puke.

There's also the St Joeseph's Oratory- the Largest after to St Peter's in Rome. Which is MASSIVE. There is this set of steps leading up. It has three corridors. Two on either side for everyone, and the middle line for just devotees and pilgrims, who kneel and pray on each step. 283 in all - hello minor bruising. At least the Oratorium is a well known site of Pope-acknowledged miracles for cripples if you sustain any chronic damage on the way up.

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