Moving towards the gardens
There is an interesting inscription on the walls of the chapter house, quoting from Psalm 122, asking passers-by to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. See if you can find all the words at the top of the walls. In the Christian tradition, Jerusalem is important both as a physical place in the land called Holy, but also as an image for the City of God.
If you walk to the back of the Cathedral you will see a star of David, also sometimes called the Star of Creation, which is a symbol often found on ancient religious buildings such as cathedrals. This preceded its wide use in Judaism.
You will also see the Wallenberg monument, sculpted by Paul Lancz, which was erected in 1995 to mark the 50th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camps where millions of Jews were killed during World War II.
Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat working in Budapest for the War Refugee Board, was responsible for saving thousands of Jews by issuing them Swedish passports and providing safe houses. He was imprisoned by Soviet forces in January 1945 and not seen again. It is not known when he died. The sculptor was himself one of the Jews saved by Wallenberg.
Old Parish House and new offices
On the Bourassa side of the gardens you will see a large building which used to be first the rectory and later (1923) the Parish House. It is now a restaurant.
This building was demolished along with other parish offices and meeting places during the major reconstruction project at the end of the eighties. However, protests from heritage groups resulted in the Parish House being rebuilt.
The offices of the Cathedral and the Diocese moved into the large pink building you can see on the corner of De Maisonneuve behind the gardens.
Notice how skillfully the architect has used the glass to reflect an image of the cathedral.
The gardens are a good pace to finish our tour. Look back at the church, and try to imagine the Spring Day in 1857 when the foundation stone was laid at the base of the tower. In its hollow are coins, papers concerning the cathedral and a woodcut of the fire destroying the previous church. Bishop Fulford, the clergy of the diocese, the Sunday School students from four churches and a large crowd of adults were serenaded by the band of the 39th regiment. Think how proud they must have been of their new Gothic cathedral - and imagine fields and gardens where the tall buildings stand today.
Thank you for taking the time to learn about the history of this heritage building set in the heart of Montreal. We are grateful to many organisations and individuals, including the Conseil du Patrimoine Religieux du Québec, for the support they give to its maintenance and restoration for the benefit of all Montrealers and visitors.
We are grateful for all donations. If you would like to play your part in supporting the future of this historic building, please consider making a donation. Thank you for your generosity.