1902 – Geographical location: near the city of Trois-Rivières, Quebec

Origin. During a 1714 pastoral visit, Bishop de St-Vallier of Quebec signed a decree to build a new church for the small parish of Cap-de-la-Madeleine. In the summer of 1717, the work began. Field stones were used for the walls of what is now the oldest preserved fieldstone church in Canada, the current old Shrine of Cap-de-la-Madeleine.

The Friar Minor, Blessed Frédéric Jansoone, born in France on November 19, 1838, is closely linked to the organization and development of this pilgrimage of Our Lady of the Rosary. On June 22, 1888, the parish priest Désilets consecrated the small chapel in the presence of the parishioners and pilgrims while Father Frédéric gave the sermon. After the death of the parish priest eight days later, on June 30, 1888, Father Frédéric agreed to continue the work and published the first issue of the Annals in January 1890. On April 20, 1900, Bishop F.X. Cloutier declared the Shrine a “diocesan place of pilgrimage” and Father Frédéric was officially appointed Director of Pilgrimages. At the latter’s suggestion, the Oblates arrived as guardians of the Shrine on May 7, 1902. They obtained the usufruct and administration of the parish and Shrine of Marie-Madeleine by notarial deed on May 6, 1902. The following is a summary of this document:

On the fourth day of May 1902, the priests and churchwardens of the vestry of Sainte-Marie-Madeleine parish, Cap-de-la-Madeleine having appeared, duly authorized, for the purposes hereof by the Bishop of Trois-Rivières, who, after having obtained the authorization of the old and new wardens and the free tenant inhabitants of the said parish, have hereby granted to the Reverend Oblate Fathers of the Immaculate Conception of Mary the usufruct and temporal administration of the goods of the said work and vestry of the parish of Sainte-Marie-Madeleine, Cap-de-la-Madeleine.

The parties declare that the lands belonging to the work and vestry of the said parish, are hereby transferred as usufruct to the Reverend Oblate Fathers, on which the church, the sacristy, the presbytery and other outbuildings of the said parish are erected and on which the cemetery is also located; they are known and designated under Nos. 121, 129 and 130 in the book of reference of the said parish of Sainte-Marie-Madeleine, Cap-de-la- Madeleine, in Champlain County.

The said Congregation will be required, during all the time that it is in charge of serving this parish, to provide the said parish of Sainte-Marie-Madeleine with all the religious buildings necessary for this service.

The parish priest, L. E. Dugay, priest, who had to give up his place to the Oblates, wrote on December 31, 1901, that even if the bishop had not yet returned from Rome, he saw nothing to prevent the Fathers from coming to prepare the reception of pilgrims and preside over the pilgrimages if they so wished. In the same letter, he states that for the spelling of Magdeleine, Madeleine has not been found for the past 250 years. “In the circumstances,” he said, “I would be reluctant to abandon this ancient use. That is why I would ask you to maintain the old form.”

Father C. Augier, Superior General, erected the new house on May 1 (the year is not mentioned) with the following text: “We, the undersigned Superior General of the Congregation of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, wishing to provide for the proper Constitution of the newly founded house in Cap de la Madeleine, in the Diocese of Trois-Rivières (Canada), hereby declare that we constitute the House of Cap de la Madeleine as a regular house, with the enjoyment of all the rights provided for in the Rules and by the General Chapters, and appoint as Superior, the Rev. Fr. Joseph Dozois.”

On February 21, 1955, the Bishop of Trois-Rivières expressed his favorable opinion on the construction of a Basilica on the grounds of the Shrine of Notre-Dame-du-Cap. It is wise, he said, to follow the plans and sketches shown to him.

Eugène Lapointe OMI