A statue of Saint Joseph found in the water


Father Étienne-Michel Faillon in Canada:

It all began when Father Étienne-Michel Faillon, a Sulpician priest born in France, made his third trip to Canada, from November 1857 to June 1862. Charged with visiting Sulpician houses in America, Faillon came into contact with the women’s communities of Montreal established under the French Regime. He wrote the biographies of their founders: Marguerite Bourgeoys, Marie-Marguerite d’Youville and Jeanne Mance. For Father Faillon, this was a way of participating in the religious renewal of the 1840s in the diocese of Montreal. In a more specifically pastoral spirit, he had a statue of Our Lady of Pity (Pietà), reputed to be miraculous, from Avignon, installed in the home of the daughters of Marguerite Bourgeoys in Montreal (today in the church of Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours in Old Montreal). 


Devotion to Saint Joseph:

In addition to this apostolate, Étienne-Michel Faillon was busy spreading, both in Canada and in Europe, the devotion to Saint Joseph. In 1843, he published a booklet entitled Sentiments de Monsieur Olier sur la dévotion à saint Joseph which was reprinted in 1854. Four years later, 40,000 copies had been sold in Canada.

“In 1857, Father Etienne-Michel Faillon, P.S.S., bought a statue of Saint Joseph in France for a small chapel built the previous year and dedicated to Saint Joseph. The ship carrying the statue sank with its cargo. A second statue was therefore ordered by the same donor, which arrived in port in November of the same year. The generous donor blessed it on a Wednesday, November 11, 1857” (c.f. Cahiers de Joséphologie).

“A year later, a crate appeared at the docks in Montreal with the address “Grey Nuns”. Without being able to explain its origin, the customs officers had it transported to the house of the Grey Nuns closest to the port, which was then the Hospice Saint-Joseph (Cathedral Street). One can imagine the joyful astonishment of the community. This parcel brought a wooden statue, seven feet high, the statue lost at sea. Saint Joseph himself chose his shrine; it was installed above the high altar” (c.f. Cahiers de Joséphologie).


“At the Mother House, in order to accommodate Saint Joseph properly, a small chapel was built – a rotunda adjoining the large chapel – for which Mr. Victor Rousselot, p.s.s., paid the cost. Father Faillon came to bless it on Wednesday, December 22, 1858, and then he celebrated Holy Mass there, at which the Sisters took communion” (c.f. Cahiers de Joséphologie).

It remained at this location until May 31, 1931, when it was moved to 1460 East, Chemin de la Côte Saint-Michel (today Crémazie Boulevard), then called “École Ménagère Saint-Joseph”. In 1967, following the liturgical renovation, the statue of St. Joseph was removed from the chapel and placed at the entrance of the second floor where it is now. In 1978, St. Joseph still had a place of honor in the Eulalie Perrin Residence (in the same location as the 1931 St. Joseph School). By the goodness of Providence, this statue was graciously renovated by a benefactor named Mr. Guy Brunelle in May 1983.

“Even today, it is well known that before climbing Mount Royal, it was to the little church on Cemetery Street, and later on Cathedral Street, that the Catholic population of Montreal went to pray to Saint Joseph. Built in 1862-1863 by Mr. Antoine-Olivier Berthelet, with the help of the Grey Nuns, this chapel was consecrated on October 15, 1863, by His Grandeur, Bishop Ignace Bourget, so devoted to the interests of the glorious Patron of our country” (c.f. Cahiers de Joséphologie).

According to Alcée Penet, archivist of the Maison Mère d’Youville, the Eulalie-Perrin Residence was sold in 2008. That same year, the statue was given to Saint Joseph’s Oratory, where it resides to this day. According to Mr. David Bureau, archivist of Saint Joseph’s Oratory, this statue of approximately two meters high is in the reserves of the Oratory. It is however inaccessible to the public. 




Sister C. Drouin, s.g.m, L’Hôpital Général de Montréal, 1943, t. III. page 58

Les soeurs grises sous la garde de Saint Joseph, Cahiers de Joséphologie, Volume VI, no2 (1958) pages 222 to 224