The great thanksgiving mass at the Olympic Stadium. How to archive a recent event?

On October 30, 2010, the canonization of Saint Brother André was celebrated with a Thanksgiving Mass at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal.

This is the second time in 30 years that the Stadium has hosted an event concerning Brother André: the first event took place on June 20, 1982 on the occasion of Brother André’s beatification. Paul Grégoire, Archbishop of Montreal, gave the homily for the occasion.

Stade messe 1982

A ticket to attend the Thanksgiving Mass for the beatification of Brother André on June 20, 1982. CADRG 13.10.02

Stade enregistrement

A record was produced in 1984 which included the Mass sung by Pope Saint John Paul II on May 23, 1982 at Saint Peter’s in Rome. CADRG C001/6420

But let us return to the 2010 celebration.

The evident success of the prayer vigil held a few days earlier at the Oratory (on the night of October 16-17) foreshadows the magnitude of the thanksgiving celebration planned for October 30.

Canonisation Crypte 16-17 oct 2010

This photograph taken from the rood screen of the crypt organ gives an idea of the size of the crowd during the prayer vigil. Photograph: Alexandre Genest, 2010.

The celebration held at the Olympic Stadium brings together 58 Bishops of Canada and is presided over by Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte, Archbishop of Montreal. As in 1982, in addition to the pilgrims, dignitaries from the City of Montreal, the Government of Quebec and the Government of Canada, as well as people of all ages and backgrounds, will be welcomed.

Approximately 48,000 people take part in the event. The festivities are kicked off by Mr. Claude Aubin, carillonnist for 30 years at Saint Joseph’s Oratory, who rings the bell of the Original Chapel dating back to 1904. The grandiose processions are punctuated by songs, including Le Miracle de la montagne, performed by Mrs. Chantal Pary, accompanied by her daughter Mélanie, violinist Alexandre Da Costa and the wind orchestra of Collège de Notre-Dame. The voices of the Petits Chanteurs du Mont-Royal provided vocals throughout the celebration.

Among the documents we have kept from the 2010 Thanksgiving celebration, there are obviously many pieces related to the planning of the event.

A large and diverse team had to be coordinated, not to mention hundreds of volunteers. Several photographs testify to the ingenuity it took to accommodate the stadium’s space to the religious festive atmosphere we wanted to create.

There are also photographs related to the offerings that served, in a way, to concretely manifest the presence of Saint Brother André: a suitcase that he used during his visits to the Sick, votive lamps (the famous lanterns to Saint Joseph), plans of the Oratory that he built, wooden crutches, and Saint Joseph oil. The series also contains several files of correspondence between the various professionals involved and brings to life the day-to-day organization of a large-scale event.

Stade messe 2010

A ticket to attend the Thanksgiving Mass for the beatification of Brother André on October 30, 2010. CADRG 13.10.03

Stade Stephen Harper

Thank you letter from the Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, November 29, 2010. Mr. Harper visited Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal for the first time before participating in the Thanksgiving ceremony. CADRG 13.10.03

A souvenir edition of the canonization is published in the January-March 2011 issues of L’Oratoire magazine. In the course of the pages, we are made to relive the (numerous) ceremonies that marked these exceptional days both in Rome and in Montreal.

Obviously, a series of archives such as the Thanksgiving celebration is not as spectacular as “old” documents can be. But let’s not lose sight of the fact that they too will become ancient. We may not see such a public manifestation of the Montreal church again anytime soon, but the 2010 documents will serve to tell the story of how, on one October day, the Olympic Stadium in Montreal became the symbol of the love of the pilgrims of Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal for the humble doorman who became a saint.