This Roman Catholic basilica is considered to be Canada’s largest place of worship and many devout catholics still make it part of their pilgrimage. The eclectic mix of styles makes the church a living piece of Canadian history. It was first built in 1904 and at the time was just a plain wooden chapel. The number of visitors and pilgrims increased with each year and each decade left it’s mark on the original chapel. It is said that the original design of the basilica was completed in the early 1920’s but it was realised by the 1960’s. The growing number of visitors meant that the original design was rethought multiple times which gives the current building an interesting mix of influences.
The main building is the basilica which is the more popular destination for tourists. The first feature that stands out is the colonnade which is over 19 meters high and framed by corinthian columns. The guide was very proud of the fact that the dome is the world’s 3rd largest and oratory larger than London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral. It boasts 283 concrete steps and a smaller flight of wooden stairs that is no more than 100 steps for pilgrims who wish to climb on their knees.
The Votive Chapel is a destination for pilgrims because it is said to heal the lame. The walls are decorated with layers of wooden crutches and canes, items left behind by pilgrims that claim to have been healed by st Joseph. The room is quite humid and hot due to the fact that there are over 10 000 candles lit at any given point. Huge numbers of visitors and pilgrims make the visit an unforgettable experience. Pleading and wailing, many pilgrims pray for St. Joseph’s blessing, lighting candles and donating money as they go.
The Basilica warrants many visits to explore the particular architectural features. Hopefully in the future I get to see it again and write a little more about the interior.