The replica Pilgrim Statue of Our Lady of the Cape was on display at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Ottawa to mark the 70th anniversary of the 1947 Marian Congress. Catholic Register file photo

Film to chronicle Our Lady of the Cape

  • October 22, 2020

Canadian Catholic filmmaker Kevin Dunn was spellbound when he first heard the story of Our Lady of the Cape.

“As a filmmaker and Catholic, I was astonished I did not know about Our Lady of the Cape, the Queen of Canada and Queen of Intercessors,” said Dunn, a three-time Gemini Award nominee who has created over 1,000 hours of programming over a 30-year career.

“As soon as I dug deeper into the story, I found it was so rich with drama, grace and the amazing storytelling only our Lord can do.”

It’s an intriguing story, one related to him by Dennis Girard, a director of the Marian Devotional Movement (MDM) in Ottawa. Our Lady of the Cape is a name bestowed to a statue of Mary, Mother of God, donated in 1854 to Cap-de-la-Madeleine, Que., that shows the Blessed Mother casting her eyes downward while retaining a pleasant facial expression, as a serpent is crushed beneath her feet.

The story captured the imagination of Dunn, and set the filmmaker in him in motion. And with the generosity of an anonymous donor to the MDM in 2018, it sparked production on Bridge of Roses: The Story of Our Lady of the Cape. Produced and directed by Dunn, the documentary will chronicle how praying the rosary, and miracles from Our Lady, led to a little church in Cap-de-la-Madeleine on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River near Trois-Rivieres becoming a hallowed national shrine and international pilgrimage destination.

Rendering cinematic recreations of the Our Lady of the Cape saga’s defining and wondrous moments represents the most ambitious element of Bridge of Roses. Dunn wants to show how Fr. Luc Desilets’ discovery of a pig chewing on a rosary in the church stirred him and his congregation to greater devotion to the rosary. 

He is also eager to exhibit The Miracle of the Ice Bridge in March 1879, which as the story goes was manifested through intercession to Our Lady of the Cape. Parishioners needed an ice path so materials to build the new church could be shepherded over the St. Lawrence River. But an unusually mild winter threatened those plans.

“It is a truly remarkable story of the bridge of ice being formed during a hot spring over the St. Lawrence River,” said Dunn. “The parish vicar (Fr. Louis-Eugene Duguay) got the parishioners to pray the rosary and pieces of ice emerged from down the river, and they were ultimately able to create a bridge of ice to transport the stones and build the new church.”

The bridge was crossed on March 19 and stood up to the pressure of horse-drawn carriages. 

To commemorate Our Lady of the Cape’s intercession, the old fieldstone church was maintained as a shrine that has become a religious landmark visited by more than 430,000 people annually. 

Dunn will also recreate the miracle of June 22, 1888, when three priests witnessed the statue open its eyes and remain open for nearly 10 minutes.  

The success of a crowdfunding campaign launched on Sept. 12 (it concludes Dec. 8) will ultimately determine the extent to which Dunn and his team will realize their ambitious vision of recreating these deified moments in history. The goal is to raise $100,000 (the film is a $250,000 production). Achieving this goal will also increase the potential of Dunn and the MDM team unveiling this film on Oct. 7, 2021, the 450th feast day of Our Lady of the Rosary. 

Dunn is excited to unveil Bridge of Roses  to the world because it will urge a greater call to devote to God and intercede to Mary. 

“Praying the rosary truly offers all of us a bridge to the Lord, who is calling us to step out in faith and work together to build bridges that will bring the Catholic faith back to Canada,” he said.

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