Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Church in Quebec City sparkles like a scene in an old-fashioned Christmas card!
Magical and historic, Notre-Dame-des-Victoires is a small Roman Catholic church on Place Royale in the lower town of Old Quebec City, in the province of Quebec, Canada.
Construction was started on the stone building in 1687 and was completed in 1723. The church is one of the oldest in North America!
House Crazy Sarah’s bloodline reaches far back in time to this area, so she feels a tingle of connection to these old French Catholic houses of worship.
And look how divine it is at Christmastime!
Notre-Dame-des-Victoires was actually built atop the ruins of Samuel de Champlain‘s first outpost settlement. Architect Hilaire Bernard de La Rivière was the builder. Originally dedicated to l’Enfant Jésus, it received the name Notre-Dame-de-la-Victoire following the Battle of Quebec of 1690, in which an English advance was forced to retreat. In 1711, its name was slightly changed again to the plural, Notre-Dame-des-Victoires, after bad weather had sunk an advancing British fleet and the French were victorious again.
However, just when the French thought the Brits would never prevail, the little church was largely destroyed by a British bombardment that preceded the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in September 1759.
But the heavily damaged church underwent a restoration that was completed in 1816.
The steadfast church, which was listed as a historic monument in 1929, to this day remains a functioning place of worship.
It has undergone some restoration in recent decades to uphold its colonial French character. The church was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1988 and plaqued in 1992.
It’s wonderful how many photos there are of lovers cuddling together in front of the church.
Eagle-eyed cinema fans may recognize the church as a filming location from the 2002 movie Catch Me If You Can starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Frank Abagnale, Jr.
Its sombre, unpretentious style was characteristic of churches in the French colony, far removed from the ornate, lofty cathedrals of Europe.
This historic treasure was actually close to being demolished in the early part of the Twentieth Century.
Its congregation had outgrown the church, and the surrounding merchants wanted it plowed over for more road space.
However, the faithful parishioners put up a fight, and in 1929 they were able to get it classified as a historical monument by a newly created commission in the Province of Québec.
The humble church is now forever protected.
Let’s have a look inside…
After centuries of renovations, there is only one remaining original element inside the church: the tabernacle of the chapel of Sainte-Geneviève.
However, period paintings have been brought back to adorn the church, such as the painting of the miraculous deliverance of the ship L’Aimable Marthe, a gift from 1747 in gratitude to the Virgin Mary.
And what is that vessel suspended from the ceiling you ask?
It is a replica of the 17th-century ship Le Brézé, which was recovered from the ruins of Notre-Dame-de-Québec Cathedral Basilica in 1759 and is now suspended from the ceiling here.
Though heavily restored through the ages, the current interior is very much what the church parishioners of the 18th-century would have seen.
Can you imagine how special Christmas Eve services would be here?