Saint Joseph’s Oratory is jaw dropping architecture on Montreal’s large hilltop, Mount Royal. At first it was difficult to get to, despite the different suggestions that were given to us by the locals. We must’ve jumped on and off buses for over a half hour when an older woman came to the rescue and showed us the way – literally! We were waiting at a bus stop when she walked up and overheard us talking about Saint Joseph’s Oratory and wondering if we had finally made it to the right bus stop. She introduced herself (I can’t remember her name) and said that she was on her way there, also confirming we were indeed at the right bus stop!
On our way to the oratory we talked about where we were from, and she was also able to give us some background information about the site. She had been attending mass there for years and she knew a lot about the history of Saint Joseph’s Oratory. When we arrived we took the free shuttle bus to the top to enter the basilica (it is very high up).
Before she went to mass, she was able to spend a few minutes with us and showed us around. It was so kind of her to be our tour guide – locals are the best guides!
She told us that she visits everyday to pray for peace. She used to be filled with anxiety and after visiting the basilica over a period of time she felt a gentle inner peace. Now she prays for herself, and the world.
There is a museum, art, gardens and unbelievable architecture.
The basilica is massive! It stands at about 423 ft high and its dome is 128 ft in diameter, the third largest in the world after St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
The oratory was founded by Saint Andre Bessette in 1904 and was dedicated to Saint Joseph who Brother Andre believed was related to the miracles happening in his basilica. There is a wall of over a thousand crutches on display from pilgrims who said they were healed by the basilica’s healing power. Pope John Paul II even recognized the miracles at Saint Joseph’s Oratory as an authentic event.
You can practically see all of Montreal from the basilica above. A word for the ladies: beware, it is very windy at times up there so try not to wear a loose dress when you visit. I made that mistake! I was unaware of the wind situation on the hilltop before our visit and it was very embarrassing!
Every night the cross on top of the dome is lit up for all of Montreal to see. We were also able to see it from our hotel window on the top floor.
Do not miss a visit to Saint Joseph’s Oratory. It is a beautiful site to see and don’t be afraid to ask locals questions, you might just find yourself a great tour guide! Do you like to get recommendations and information from locals when you travel?