Sherbrooke, a brief history
Sherbrooke was inhabited first by the First Nations as well as other nomadic peoples for thousands of years. It is not more than two hundred years that the city has been ”official”. Originally known as Hyatt’s Mill, the city of Sherbrooke has served as a manufacturing centre. It produces its own electricity, in part thanks to the presence of hydroelectric dams on the Magog River, which has the advantage of never freezing due to its strong currents. Today Sherbrooke is the sixth-largest city in the province of Quebec. It is a “student” city, with some 40,000 students living and studying in it each year. In fact the city boasts the largest concentration of students in the province. Its natural charm, mountain silhouettes and rivers will delight you, but most of all you’ll love meeting its warm and welcoming citizens when you visit!
Downtown Mural Tour
Decorating the heart of downtown Sherbrooke, this network of murals paints an historical portrait of the city and surrounding area. On them one can discover the central figures who have forged its story. Art, history and pleasure meet here. The designers have even thought up treasure hunts that have been incorporated into each mural. Will you discover all the clues? Two independent walking routes are available for viewing no fewer than our fourteen murals!
Cathedral-Basilica of St. Michael
The Cathedral-Basilica of St. Michael is one of the largest visitor attractions for those coming to the Eastern Townships. The grandeur, uniqueness and Gothic architectural style of the cathedral draw thousands of sightseers each year. The edifice has formed a proud part of the city’s skyline for over one hundred years.
Inspired by the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris, its rich elegance is principally found in its hundred stained-glass panes depicting biblical scenes of angels intervening in salvation history. This angelic theme sets the cathedral apart from other notable religious architecture around Québec.
Several artists—among them the renowned Québecois painters Ozias Leduc and Paul-Émile Borduas—took part embellishing both the cathedral proper as well as a private chapel located in the archbishop’s residence. They enriched it in sculptures, stained glass, mosaics and paintings. One may find to the right of the cathedral sanctuary a wooden life-size sculpture of Sister Marie-Léonie Paradis, the first and only nun beatified in Estrie.
Construction work was interrupted in 1917. The Pauline chapel (now the cathedral basement) served as the cathedral for the next forty years. It was in 1956 that work was undertaken again. The building was finished in 1957 at which time the cathedral was officially blessed. It gained status as a minor basilica on July 31, 1959. St. Michael the Archangel is patron of the diocese, inaugurated in 1855.
Blessed Mother Marie-Leonie Paradis
Born on the 12th of May in 1840 at l’Acadie, then in the diocese of Montréal but currently the diocese of Saint-Jean-Longueuil. She was baptised under the name of Alodie-Virginie. She was the third in a family of six and the only girl.
At the age of fourteen, she entered the convent of the Marianites of Saint-Laurent, Montréal, the women’s branch of the Congregation of the Holy Cross. The founder, Father Basile-Moreau, allowed her to pronounce religious vows on the 22nd of August, 1857, despite her poor health. She received that day the name of Sister Marie de Sainte-Léonie and taught for many years.
Her heart led her to assisting and supporting the priestly ministry. However, the route that obedience traced for her was an unexpected one. She would spend many years in the United States and then in New Brunswick. It was there in the latter place twenty-three years later that she would found in 1880 her Institute, The Little Sisters of the Holy Family. These would work with and support the Brothers of the Holy Cross in the field of education.
The spirit of faith in Mother Marie-Léonie allowed her to see and serve Christ in the person of the priest and in each person she met. Her love of the priesthood had no other equal in her save her zeal for the Eucharist. She went to God with all the simplicity of a child, entrusting herself to Him as to a loving Father.
Monseigneur Paul LaRocque, then-bishop of Sherbrooke, was looking for religious sisters to place in his seminary and his residence. When she was informed of this, Sister Léonie consulted others, reflected and then decided to move both her mother-house and the novitiate of the Little Sisters of the Holy Family to Sherbrooke. In 1896 she obtained diocesan approval, which Mgr. John Sweeney, then-bishop of Saint-John, New Brunswick, had continually failed to grant her new community.
In 1905, Pope St. Pius X relieved her of her obligations towards her first religious congregation which permitted her to take the habit given to her own sisters.
She would die the 3rd of May, 1912, at the age of seventy-two after heading her community for thirty-two years. They said of her that ”she was all heart”.
To find out more on her, please click here
The Shrine to the Sacred Heart of Beauvoir
Founded more than one hundred years ago, the Sanctuaire de Beauvoir is a special place. There one can be touched by the loving heart of God. The high countryside plus the panoramic view around encourage us to soak in the wonder of God’s creation. More, the love of the Creator Himself is also present for pilgrims who arrive in this unique place, waiting for them. Several organized paths for recollection are open to the public on wooded grounds around the shrine. They include an original set of Gospel meditations in which one contemplates Jesus raising up the people He meets on His way, as He lavishes on them the immensity of His love. And guess what? This immense love is for all of us too!
To learn more about the Sanctuaire de Beauvoir, click here.