Montreal and Saint Sulpice

A Long History Celebrated
Thursday 11 January 2018
by  Ronald Witherup
popularity : 5%

Last year, during the celebration of the 375th anniversary of the founding of the city of Montreal, a group of faithful Québecois devoted to the early founders came to France to trace the French heritage that first arrived in Canada in 1642.

The Sulpicians became intimately tied to the city of Montreal—then named Ville-Marie—when the Sulpician founder, M. Jean-Jacques OLIER, who was part of the founding Société de Notre-Dame de Montréal interested in establishing firm Christian roots in New France, joined in sending a contingent of French missionaries to Montreal in 1657, the year of his own death. Arriving in August 1657, the Sulpicians found the city on the verge of collapse. They immediately set about plans to stabilize and restore the city. They organized the streets, gave them names that endure to the present (such as, rue Note-Dame, rue Saint-Mathieu, rue Saint-Paul, etc.), and basically saved the city, which now survives as a thriving multicultural metropolis in Canada.

The Sulpicians consequently became known as the “lords of Montreal,” having been granted a “seigneury” by the King of France. Olier thus entered Montreal’s history, along with Paul de Chomedey de MAISONNEUVE, Jeanne MANCE and Jérôme Le Royer de la DAUVERSIÈRE, as a heroic figure of the past whose influence endures today. Only a few years ago, during renovations at the first Grand Séminaire Saint-Sulpice in Old Montreal, vestiges of the original city walls were discovered and have now been preserved for future generations.

During the summer of 2017, the Superior General, M. Ronald D. WITHERUP, PSS, welcomed a small group of pilgrims from Quebec at the Generalate in downtown Paris, where he was interviewed to comment on Olier’s incredible missionary vision and his desire to participate in the sending of missionaries to Montreal and New France. The group included Sylvie TRUDELLE, Clément FORTIN, Pierrette ROY, and Roger BÉDARD. Upon their return to Canada, they created a 36-minute video available on Facebook, which includes two short segments of the interview with Father Witherup.

For more information about this pilgrimage, you can access the video, with the permission of Sylvie Trudelle, by clicking here.

For the full history of the Sulpicians in Canada, one should consult: The Sulpicians of Canada: A History of Power and Discretion – 1657-2007, edited by Dominique DESLANDRES, John A. DICKSON, and Ollivier HUBERT (Trans. by Steven WATT; Montreal: Wilson & Lafleur, 2013), 705 p., available through libraries, bookstores, or Amazon.com.

The Sulpician Seminary in Montreal