SEGMENT 2 - AND THE REST… AMEN
When building such a project, one has to establish a time limit for the visit. In our case, we set the bar at one hour. However, many text have been developed and written on subjects that are just as interesting as those discussed in the first segment. This second segment is intended to be a potpourri of these topics that have been left behind. We are sure that if you enjoyed the initial visit, this second segment will also charm you. In an attempt to establish certain logic, this second segment forms part of a second visit by grandpa and his grandchildren to the church of Château-Richer.
Grandpa: Well children, here we are back in the church. The last time we ran out of time. Today we will have the necessary time for me to tell you about a few more topics. Are you ready?
Guillaume and Delphine: Yes grandpa!
ARCHDIOCESE OF QUEBEC
Grandpa: Let's start with a question: who owns the church and who is responsible for its administration and maintenance?
Delphine: I do not know exactly grandpa, I believe that it is the diocese, which owns the premises, but for the administration I do not know.
Grandpa: Well Delphine, this church is the property of the Catholic Archdiocese of Quebec. In terms of its administration and maintenance, we find elected officials, called “marguilliers” in French with the equivalent title of Churchwarden in English. They are responsible not only for managing the inventory but also for finding the financial means to ensure it maintenance.
Grandpa: I would like you to look up at the vault of the church, in other words the ceiling. When you look at this vault, how do you see its construction? Are you thinking of a structure on which the roof of the church rests? A structure that hugs the roof of the church?
Guillaume: I never really thought about it but I think so, the vault must hug the roof to get the maximum height.
Grandpa: By looking at these photos that I took and that you can see on the screen of my phone, you will be able to see that there is an attic space, that is to say a very important space between the vault and roof. The vault is therefore an interior construction of wood and lightweight plaster made for decorative purpose and to allow for the painting of frescos.
Guillaume: Grandpa, how is the church heated?
Grandpa: Well Guillaume, let's talk about the heating system if you're interested. The parishioners lived a great day in 1904 with the installation of a new and efficient oil heating system. Imagine going to church and being able to take off your coat! It had never been seen before.
For a long time heating was provided by these two oil furnaces. These furnaces heated water that was then circulated in these old cast-iron radiators that can be seen along the walls of the church.
In 1984, these old furnaces were replaced by new ones and a dual-energy system was installed. Today the church is heated mainly by electrical elements and the two oil furnaces are there only as backup systems.
Delphine: Say, grandpa, does it cost a lot of money to heat a church like this one?
Grandpa: Well, for the year 2019 the electricity bill was over $ 17,000.
Delphine: But who pays for the electricity used by the church?
Grandpa: In our case the church receives donations from the parishioners. To raise funds, the Churchwardens also organize an annual flea market for the sale of items donated by citizens.
THE RETABLE - ALTARPIECE
Grandpa: If you look behind the altar at the very back of the Church Choir, you see a marble structure. Well, we call this structure a retable or an altarpiece.
Grandpa: In the present case, you see this poor example which was placed here in the fourties to replace a carved wooden altarpiece. Look on my screen, I brought an old photo to show you this magnificent altarpiece that adorned this church for over 100 years. Unfortunately, it was allegedly destroyed after being removed. But I would like to draw your attention to a specific point. If you look closely at this old photo, you will see that the high altar was part of the altarpiece. The explanation is interesting. For centuries Mass was said in Latin, and the priest turned his back on the faithful. But during Vatican Council II in 1962, several decisions were made to change practices and allow a reconciliation of the priest with his followers. He was then encouraged to be more welcoming, more joyful and less focused on penance. To do so, the high altar was repositioned to allow the priest to face the faithful. That’s why it is now where you see it… in front of the choir. And the most important change perhaps was that from 1964, mass was said in the language of the faithful of Château-Richer, namely in French. Imagine, for the first time the faithful could understand what the priest said during Mass.
Grandpa: I would like you to look at this old photo again. You can see on the left a small staircase going up a column towards a small balcony attached to this same column of the church. This small platform raised above the ground is called a pulpit. Can you tell me what the pulpit can be used for?
Delphine: It allows the priest to get closer to the faithful because before the arrival of the speakers you had to speak loudly to be heard by all?
Grandpa: Excellent Delphine, but I would like to add a few details. Starting in Italy in the 13th century, pulpits were built. It will be in the XVI century that we will see a generalization of the installation of pulpits in Catholic churches. Finally, a small detail, our pulpit was not covered with a sounding-board but the majority of pulpits in Europe included this small roof, which allows the voice of the priest to be reflected. I have some pictures of these little roofs, these sounding-boards. Today the pulpits are no longer used. I spoke to you earlier about the Second Vatican Council that transformed things. One of the transformations was the almost complete abandonment of the pulpit sermon. Today the priests are turning rather to homily, which consists in explaining the mysteries of the faith and the precepts of Christian life.
Delphine: I also believe grandpa that the loudspeakers played an important role in allowing the priest in the choir to be heard by all.
Grandpa: Well reasoned Delphine. It is clear that the arrival of the microphone and the speakers coincided with these changes and facilitated this transition.
THE RIDGE TURRET
Grandpa: You will have noticed when we were approaching outside that this church has a ridge turret, which is built on the edge of the roof of the church above the choir of the church. It’s a bit like a small bell tower at the back of the church. I have a picture of this ridge turret that you can see on the screen. If you look carefully you will notice that there is a bell in it. Do you know what this bell is used for?
Guillaume: Is it to call the citizens when there is a fire to come and help put it out?
Grandpa: Very good answer Guillaume. It is true that people rang the bells to announce a fire but they would have use the large bells for that.
In this case we have a little bell that can be rung from the church choir. Its use is no longer in practice today but for a long time this bell was rung during the Eucharist. You surely know that during mass the priest consecrates the hosts and the wine. For centuries the priest, his back to the faithful and in Latin, did this ceremony as I told you earlier. So to help the faithful recognize the different moments of the ceremony so that they would know when to bow, stand up and kneel down, the bell was tolled. This exterior bell also allowed people unable to come to Mass and therefore at home to recognize the moment of the Eucharist and thus be able to follow from home this important portion of the Mass by bowing, rising and kneeling at the right time. Today altar bells are used.
GODMOTHER AND GODFATHER
Grandpa: The last time I told you about baptism. In addition, you already know that during a baptism, one generally designates a godfather and a godmother. What is the significance of this?
Guillaume: All I know is that my godmother and my godfather give me nice gifts on my birthday and Christmas.
Grandpa: They are very nice your godfather and godmother I know them well but for the catholic religion godparents have an important role to play. This practice of sponsorship would have started in the 2nd century. This practice was and still is today linked to voluntary service. At first, this service was associated with a servant who was committed to providing care and attention to his master's child. Over time, sponsorship has become a commitment on the part of godparents to support a godchild in his Christian life and to help him in his preparations for baptism, first communion and confirmation.
Delphine: Grandpa, can you tell me if a child will live with his or her godparents if his parents die?
Grandpa: Good question Delphine. Well such sponsorship has no legal status in Quebec. However, the sponsor can make the adoption request, which will be considered, especially if the parents had indicated this desire in a will before dying.
Delphine: Grandpa, I noticed that during the Eucharist the priest used a much larger host than the hosts that are then shared with the faithful. Can you explain this to me?
Grandpa: You are quite an observer Delphine. We call this host, which is larger, an Altar Host. It is made with azime or unleavened bread so it simply means flour and water. The main reason for its large size is to allow it to be visible to the faithful in the church when the priest consecrates the bread and wine, especially during the elevation, this movement that the priest makes to hold the host at the end of his arms during this ceremony. You know, this practice of making this gesture of Elevation of the Host started only in the 14th century.
Guillaume: But grandpa, I can't eat gluten. Can people with my problem eat the host made from wheat flour?
Grandpa: The hosts today are often produced with gluten-free flours so yes Guillaume, I think people can eat the host without any problems.
Delphine: But grandpa, when the priest consecrates the host and the wine to transform them into the body and blood of Christ, he often splits the altar host into three pieces so that he can eat it. Does he cut the body of Christ by doing so?
Grandpa: Well Delphine the answer is no, Christ is present entirely in each host and in each pieces of host.
ALTAR AND CONSECRATION CROSSES
Grandpa: You see that on the altar one can see a white tablecloth. Do you know why ?
Delphine: Maybe to keep the place clean for the Eucharist.
Grandpa: Yes, you're right but there is more. Often the altars are decorated with crosses; either engraved on the stone or embroidered on the tablecloth. I have a small photo that shows these crosses well. These crosses are called the five consecration crosses and they represent the five stigmata or Holy Wounds of Jesus that were made to him during his crucifixion. The symbol linked to these crosses is to remember his suffering during the ceremonies practiced in the Church.
Grandpa: Last week, during our walk along Avenue Royale, I told you about relics. What do you remember?
Guillaume: That they are the remains of a person revered after dying. It can be material goods, but most often they are bones or pieces of bones.
Delphine: You also told us that the relics associated with this church are those of a saint martyr named Prisque, Saint-Prisque who was a Christian soldier who left his country to settle with his companions in the village of Cociacus in France. Despite his exodus, he was found by the Romans who massacred him and his companions. You told us that they had found his head and therefore the relics of this church are fragments from the skull of Saint-Prisque.
Grandpa: You have such a phenomenal memory.
THE CONSECRATION OF THE CHURCH
Grandpa: I would now like to make the link between Saint-Prisque that you just identified and this church. When a church is built and construction is completed, a public ceremony is performed to make the Church sacred, to make it belong to God. This ceremony is called the "Consecration". During this ceremony, several invocations are made such as the sprinkling of the walls with holy water, mixed with salt, ashes and wine. The process also involves the anointing of the 12 consecration crosses. The altar incensing is also practiced. But here is the link to make with Saint-Prisque, it is customary if not compulsory during the consecration of a church, to place relics of the patron saint of the church in a compartment located in the plateau of the altar, which is called a sepulchre. This practice was born in the 3rd century and declared a canonical obligation in the 5th century. For our church this dedication ceremony was done for the first time around 1650 for the first church. During the construction of this second church, a dedication ceremony was done again in 1866. In addition, at the time, a fragment of the skull of Saint Prisque was placed in a very beautiful reliquary, which is kept in the Church’s safe but look here I have a photo to show you.
Grandpa: Delphine, do you know what a sacristy is?
Delphine: It's something that is in the church but what and where exactly, I don't know.
Grandpa: A sacristy is an annex to the church, a sacred place where the priest prepares for ceremonies. It is also the place where church ornaments are kept, as well as sacred vases such as the chalice, the ciborium and the monstrance. The liturgical vestments are also kept there. This is why we always find a large furniture piece with large drawers and changing rooms. Finally, it is the place where baptism, marriage and funeral records are kept. Often in large churches a lay or a religious person is appointed to oversee the good order of the sacristy. We call this person the sacristan.
Grandpa: I have a photo of this furniture piece in the sacristy where clothes and objects used for Church celebrations are stored.
Grandpa: The last time we visited the Church we talked about Christmas and the Epiphany. Today I’d like to talk to you about Easter. What does Easter mean to you
Guillaume: It is a Holyday to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ and to receive lots of chocolate?
Grandpa: You are right and I knew that you would highlight chocolate. Well, we celebrate Easter on the first Sunday after the full moon after the spring equinox which is usually March 21. Easter can therefore be celebrated as early as March 21 and as late as April 25. The origins of this holiday are linked to pagan festivals. They celebrated light, the rebirth of nature after the long winter months. Easter is also a borrow from a Jewish holiday, the Passover, to which we associated the passion of Christ representing the events which preceded and accompanied the death of Jesus as well as the resurrection of Christ as Guillaume told us. There is also an interesting little story to know about Britain and Germany. In these countries, in the year 725 AD, there was pagan worship and rites in honour of the goddess Eostre. The Catholic evangelization of these peoples was able to draw on these traditions to establish and impose the Catholic calendar. From the goddess Eostre this Holyday took the name Easter in English and Ostern in German. As you can see, Catholicism has often established itself by borrowing or even by superimposing itself on practices coming from pagan religions.
Guillaume: But grandpa, did I hear that there was the feast of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday?
Grandpa: I wouldn’t say that they are feasts Guillaume. This period of 40 days before Easter is called Lent. The first day of Lent is called Ash Wednesday and is a day of penance, that is, a day to forgive sins. During this 40-day period, it was customary to fast and abstain from meat, especially on Friday in preparation for Easter. The last week of Lent and therefore the week before Easter is called Holy Week. The first day of this Holy Week is a Sunday known as Palm Sunday. It is so called because it represents the entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem where he was triumphantly welcomed by the people holding palm branches in their hand to signify their happiness of seeing him. Holy Thursday commemorates the last meal of Jesus Christ with his apostles. Good Friday commemorates the crucifixion of Christ. Holy Saturday is a day of waiting and contemplation because believers meditate on the sufferings of Christ when he was crucified and they anticipate his return. This leads to the Easter Vigil on Saturday evening in anticipation of this resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday. During this vigil, Easter Mass is celebrated, an important religious ceremony for believers because it ends Lent and anticipates the great feast of Easter. Finally it’s Easter Sunday, the most important Catholic holiday of the year.
Grandpa: Now the next holiday is linked to Easter because it takes place 40 days after Easter Sunday. We're talking about the Ascension. Do you know what this holiday represents?
Delphine: Yes, I believe it celebrates the rise of Jesus to heaven?
Grandpa: Exactly, but there is a little more. The Ascension marks the end of Jesus' presence on earth after being crucified and his resurrection on Easter Sunday. Ascension therefore represents a new way of seeing Jesus. Before his ascent, he had a physical presence. You could see him but after his ascent, Jesus Christ symbolized a new mode of his presence namely a presence that is omnipresent, universal and interior. Jesus Christ then remains present through the sacrament of the Eucharist because the Host represents the body of Christ. Finally, the Ascension represents for the believer the eternal life to which each man and each woman is destined.
Grandpa: Are you still following me kids?
Children: Yes grandpa!
Grandpa: The last feast is that of Pentecost. This holiday is celebrated 50 days after Easter Sunday. Jesus Christ made a promise to his disciples at the time of the Ascension by saying, "You are going to receive a force..., that of the Holy Spirit who will come upon you. Then you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all of Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. " There were about 120 disciples who then received the Holy Spirit. These disciples were also given the power to speak foreign languages in order to be able to become prophets and commit to spreading the Gospel relating the life of Jesus Christ throughout the world. Well, this feast of Pentecost would have been celebrated from the 4th century onward.
Guillaume: Grandpa, who is the person represented on the large painting to the left of the Choir?
Grandpa: Well Guillaume, the large painting to the left of the choir represents Saint-Joseph. Do you know who Saint Joseph is?
Guillaume: Yes he is the father of Jesus.
Grandpa: Partly only Guillaume. Joseph is said to have been engaged to Mary when she became pregnant through the intervention of the Holy Spirit. Once pregnant, Saint Joseph would then have married Mary, thus becoming the foster father of Jesus.
Delphine: But you grandpa, do you believe in this idea that Mary can be pregnant by the action of the Holy Spirit?
Grandpa: You know Delphine, the accounts of these times give several explanations related to Mary, her pregnancy and the birth of Jesus. But it is difficult to judge stories of events that happened such a long time ago. So I prefer to focus on the beauty of the story of the birth and life of Jesus rather than on specific elements.
THE CHRISTIAN CROSS
Grandpa: The last time we were here, Guillaume told us that there was a cross at the end of the church spire. If you look around, you can see crosses everywhere. I would like you to tell me what this cross represents for you?
Guillaume: I think the cross represents the wooden structure on which Jesus was crucified?
Grandpa: Good point Guillaume
Delphine: I think the cross is associated with the sign of the cross?
Grandpa: Good point also Delphine. I'm going to tell you about the origin of this cross. The cross is a symbol of all times. Take the Greek cross, that is a cross with four arms of the same length. It was believed in ancient times that the four spikes represented the four seasons. If today we visited the ancient Eastern Catholic churches in Greece, Egypt or Jerusalem, we would find churches built according to this form. Western churches, on the other hand, have evolved by lengthening the vertical branch of the cross to form what is called the Latin cross, which is the cross that you see everywhere around us. The cross has become over time the main symbol of Christianity.
THE ALM OR THE QUEST OR THE TITH
Grandpa: Children, during mass, a member present at the mass passes with a basket in order to collect money from the faithful. What do you know about this practice?
Guillaume: Not much grandpa. Is it to pay the parish priest?
Grandpa: Maybe Guillaume. In truth, we could speak of a quest if the money was used by the Churchwarden to pay bills such as heating or repairs or the priest's salary. But it would be said to be alms when the money is intended and reserved to help the poor in need.
Delphine: What’s the tithe then grandpa?
Grandpa: Good question Delphine. Do you know what the priests lived from in the old days? Do you know who paid them for the services they rendered?
Delphine: I don't know grandpa. I thought it was the church that paid them?
Grandpa: It was in fact the tithe, which was a tax imposed on the parishioners and they had to pay it. From this, the parish priest received an annuity to live on. At the start of the colony, here at Château-Richer, the tithe had to be paid to the seminary in Quebec. Over time, the management of the tithe was devolved to the local parish priest. That’s why for a long time the parish priest toured the houses to ask people to pay the tithe. Today we tend to turn to personal donations. There is no longer an obligation to give to the church, as was the case not so long ago.
Grandpa: Tell me, do you know what a rosary is?
Delphine: Yes I believe so grandpa. Is it not a necklace with a cross, used for praying?
Grandpa: Not bad Delphine. It looks like a necklace but for believers it’s more an object of devotion. I remember my grandmother who had her rosary with her at all times. But what do people do with a rosary?
Guillaume: They pray?
Grandpa: Yes Guillaume but there is more. Look at this photo, a Catholic rosary is made up of five dozen beads separated by large beads. Catholic faithful will use the rosary, sometime called a prayer psalter, to count prayers. These prayers are recited to meditate on the passages from the life of Jesus. To do so, the believer begins with the recitation of a "Creed" which corresponds to the cross of the rosary. On the large beads the believer will recite a "Our Father", on the small beads a "Hail Mary ", on the largest grain a "Hail Holy Queen " and at the end of a dozen prayers the "Glory be to the Father". In pass times, 3 revolution of the Rosary was said to have completed ones Rosary. Since Pope Jean-Paul II four revolution of the Rosary are necessary meaning that 20 ten-sets now compose a Rosary.
Guillaume: Are these prayers still being done?
Grandpa: I think Guillaume that one way of explaining this practice is linked to the fact that in pass times people were often illiterate. In addition, until recently mass was in Latin, a language that few could understand. The church therefore turned to memorized prayers to encourage people to pray. Today, people are literate. They can therefore read the Bible, the Gospels or other religious texts more freely to live their faith and their belief in God. So I think it's less common today to see people reciting the same prayers 200 times in an exercise of faith.
THE FISH SYMBOL
Grandpa: Small question for you before closing, have you ever seen, often glued on the back of a car, the symbol of a fish as you can see in this image?
Delphine: Yes grandpa but I never understood what it represented.
Grandpa: Well this symbol of the fish is very very old and was used by the first Christians as a mean to recognize one another. So this symbol should be seen as a concrete sign of a person’s Christian belief.
Grandpa: So children, you now know as much as I do about this beautiful church. I am very happy that you accepted to come for this second walk with me.
Guillaume: Thank you grandpa
Delphine: Yes, thank you grandpa
We hope you enjoyed this second segment of the visit with grandpa, Delphine and Guillaume and we thank you again for coming.
This second segment of the church visit is an opportunity to interact with the visitor by sharing an array of rarely treated topics.
Too many churches in Quebec disappear every year. We have here at Château-Richer a magnificent church which deserves to survive over time. This visit project is primarily aimed at teaching people about the history and heritage of the Côte-de-Beaupré region. But we cannot hide the prospect of raising some funds to help us maintain the sustainability of this church. A voluntary contribution would be appreciated. Thank you for your generosity.