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The Holy Door at Quebec’s Cathedral-Basilica of Notre Dame closes Dec. 28, but not before 350,000 have passed through. Photo courtesy of the Archdiocese of Quebec

350,000 pass through Quebec Holy Door

  • January 6, 2015

A year of celebration in the Archdiocese of Quebec drew more than 350,000 pilgrims through the Holy Door of Quebec City’s Cathedral-Basilica of Notre Dame de Québec.

The celebrations began last year on Dec. 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, when Notre Dame — North America’s first parish — marked the start of its 350th year.

“It is 350 years of the foundation of the first parish in North America,” said Marie Hélène Guay, communications director for the 350th anniversary team. “It was the first parish where all of the missionaries, they went from there through North America and they started building the countries.”

Located at 20 Rue de Baude since 1647, the current church succeeded two previous churches which had been destroyed by fire. The original building, consecrated in 1666, was destroyed in 1759 during the Siege of Quebec and its replacement in 1922 when fire entirely gutted the church.

Notre Dame has long been a popular tourism site in the historic city. The opening of the Holy Door only added to its popularity.

“A couple of years ago when we were asked how many people do you think it will bring, we expected a lot, a quarter of a million, but if we have 50,000 we will be happy,” said Guay. “It started like crazy the first day that it opened and we will probably finish the year with 350,000 people having gone through the Holy Door.”

By mid-July, when Vatican nuncio Archbishop Luigi Bonazzi celebrated an anniversary Mass, more than 100,000 had passed through the door.

Cardinal Gerald Lacroix, Archbishop of Quebec, extended an invitation to every bishop in North America to visit the cathedral during 2014 with as many followers as possible.

“We think that over 150 dioceses have been created from our original territory so we thought it would be good to invite them to come share,” he said. “People love to go to the roots of their faith.”

The archdiocese arranged for tour guides to be available offering information in French, English and Spanish. They focused on six key points: faith, family, history, heritage, legacy and culture.

“And the Holy Door just made it more unique,” Guay said. “We also put up a museum with all of the heritage items we have from the last 350 years, concerts and a lot of different activities in the basilica.”

There are only six other Holy Doors in the world, none in North America.

“It is recognition of the importance of Norte Dame de Quebec which was the entry door of faith in the new continent North America,” said Guay.

“It was the entry door of Catholicism in New France (and) in the New World. “

The door is to close Dec. 28 “because that was a very special devotion that François de Laval, our first bishop, brought in from France; the devotion to the Holy Family,” said Lacroix.

It will remained sealed until the next Holy Year of the Universal Church in 2025.

“Nobody will walk through it” until then, said Guay, “not even if there was a fire. But people will want to touch it.”

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