A mourner kneels in front of the casket of Jean Beliveau as he pays his respects to the Montreal Canadiens hockey legend during a public viewing in Montreal Dec. 7. CNS photo/Paul Chiasson, pool via Reuters

Funeral didn’t do justice to Jean Beliveau the Catholic

  • December 18, 2014

Upon the death of Jean Beliveau I devoted my National Post column to eulogizing the gentleman who exemplified the best that Quebec once produced, a model of what Quebec aspires to be. The treatment was even more generous here in the pages of The Register, with a cover story and a laudatory editorial. It was well deserved.

The obsequies at the Montreal Canadiens’ hockey arena were both fitting and moving. It brought to mind the remark of the great hockey writer, Michael Farber, who has been at Sports Illustrated since 1994 and before that covered the Habs for 15 years at the Montreal Gazette. In another context he wrote “only two organizations in Western civilization truly get ceremony: the House of Windsor and the Montreal Canadiens.”

I wrote before Jean Beliveau’s funeral that it would not “take place in a hockey arena but at Montreal’s Mary Queen of the World Cathedral, where ceremony of a transcendent kind has long been offered.” I spoke too soon. While the funeral Mass was of course a transcendent moment, as all Masses are, the dominant images from the funeral were rather more earthly.

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