The Marie Reine du Canada Pilgrimage in Quebec

Last year marks the 20th anniversary of the wonderful Marie Reine du Canada walking pilgrimage in Quebec. God bless and reward the dedicated and zealous organizers and volunteers who work hard every year to make this wonderful pilgrimage a reality. It is rare to have such a religious experience in the medieval footprint on this side of the pond. How fitting it is to have such an event in Quebec in the Dominion of Canada.

For those privileged faithful who participate, the impression left is invaluable and the graces dispensed are many and will be felt for generations. The scenery is perfect along the St. Lawrence Seaway and early September is the perfect time of the year, after the summer heat and before the autumn chill. The historic old churches along the way are both picturesque and quaint, inviting the pilgrim to stop and feel at home.  

The sponsoring organization is Marie Reine du Canada, a lay initiative based at St. Clement's FSSP parish in Ottawa. The founding members have been organizing the pilgrimage since 2003, when seven who had participated in the annual Chartres Pilgrimage in France felt inspired to create their own version in Canada. They embarked on the first pioneering pilgrimage and in doing so paved the way for the future.

Pilgrims walk 100 km (62 miles) in 3 days on Labor Day weekend, camping 2 nights along the way. Those who participate join a chapter, either the French-speaking chapter or the English-speaking one. The walk begins at St.-Joseph-de-Lanoraie in the town of Lanoraie and pilgrims walk through the towns of Maskinong√© and Trois-Rivi√®res.

The final destination is the Shrine of Notre-Dame-du-Cap (Our Lady of the Cape), located in Cap-de-la-Madeleine, Quebec. The title "Our Lady of the Cape" refers specifically to the statue of Our Lady in the fieldstone chapel where the concluding Mass is celebrated each year. Thankfully the chapel has been left preserved and was never "wreckovated" in recent decades.  

The statue depicts the Blessed Mother in fitting garments gilded and ornamented while her bare feet crush the serpent coiled on a star-studded planet earth. It takes its inspiration for the image of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal and dates from about the 1830s. In 1888 it was placed above the main altar. On that day something memorable happened. A handful of eyewitnesses reported seeing the statue open its eyes. Over the years there have been various reports of miracles and cures. 

As the renown of the statue grew, it was canonically crowned on October 12, 1904 by order of Pope St. Pius X. The original gilded crown was donated by the Catholics of Montreal. The statue received a second similar coronation on August 15, 1954, through the good graces of Venerable Pius XII. At that time it received a second crown. Each year countless pilgrims flock here. Pope John Paul II came as a pilgrim in 1984 on the occasion of his visit to Quebec, further sanctifying this holy place of prayer. 

May this annual pilgrimage continue to flourish and we invite readers to participate; it is a rare once-in-a-lifetime experience and one of the most important and significant annual Catholic events in Canada today. 


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