Altar of the Holy Family

Altar of the Holy Family

The devotion to the Holy Family goes back to the early days of the colony, in Quebec.

The altar of the Holy Family is the work of Thomas Baillairgé. In anticipation of Christmas, it was dismantled and transported into the sacristy on December 21, 1922. These circumstances meant that the altarpiece managed to barely escape the fire that ensued the following day.

The tomb of the altar

The letters “JMJ” on the tomb of the altar refer to Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

The tabernacle

Saved from the fire on December 22, 1922, this tabernacle is the work of the architect Thomas Baillairgé and master carpenter Pierre Émond. It dates back to 1827.

Resting of the Holy Family in Egypt

The painting above the altar represents Jesus, Mary and Joseph in Egypt. It also shows the Trinity (God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit). It was painted by Alma Aubin in 1926, based on the original work of Van Loo, a renowned French painter. 

The artistic painter Alma Aubin (1885-1967) was known under the name of Sister Marie de Saint-Aubin, Sister of the Good Shepherd of Québec. Excluding the frame, the work measures 250 cm high by 190 cm wide.

The lamp

Folk tradition attributes the hanging lamp in the Holy Family chapel to the generosity of Louis XIV.  It was the creation of goldsmith Jean-Baptiste Loir in Paris, between 1697 and 1703. This piece dates from the period of the Sun King. As many other pieces of goldsmiths, it survived the bombing and the fire of 1922.

The balustrade

The communion table dates back to 1924. It is used as a separation between the choir and the part of the nave reserved for the faithful. This accomplishment is attributed to Raoul Chênevert and Maxime Roisin. They would have been inspired by a similar work that you can see in the chapel of Louis XIV in Versailles. Carefully hand-carved and then glazed, the materials used are stone, marble, metal and wood.

About the altar of the Holy Family

François de Laval did much to promote the cult of the Holy Family. On March 14, 1665, he allowed the foundation in Québec of the Confrérie de la Sainte-Famille. This is an association of the faithful that still exists in Notre-Dame de Québec. In his diocese, he also established a liturgical feast of the Holy Family, which is celebrated in March of each year. The liturgical feast of the Holy Family was recognized by the universal Church in 1893. Nowadays, this feast is celebrated on the Sunday after Christmas.

Extract of
Self-guided Tour of Quebec City's Notre-Dame Cathedral

Self-guided Tour of Quebec City's Notre-Dame Cathedral image circuit

Presented by : Paroisse Notre-Dame de Québec

Directions to get there

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