St. Patrick's Basilica: The Mother Church of Montreal English-Speaking Catholics
St. Patrick's Basilica, one of Montreal's most beautiful churches and especially popular during Christmas Mass, holds a special place in the local Irish community's history books. Decreed a minor basilica by Pope Jean Paul II in 1989, the Gothic revival style church celebrated its first mass on St. Patrick's Day in 1847 in response to the growing Irish Catholic population establishing itself in Montreal, which ballooned during the potato famine in Ireland.
Living conditions for the community were deplorable at the time, and the St. Patrick's Basilica, then St. Patrick's Church, was an arguable source of hope and community cohesion as Irish immigrants faced disheartening social hurdles and dreg-like status by the local English, Scottish and French communities of the time. Today, St. Patrick's Basilica is considered the mother church of Montreal's English-speaking Catholics.
Thinking of visiting? Here's everything you need to know about the St. Patrick's Basilica before heading out.
Getting to St. Patrick's Basilica
The Notre-Dame Basilica is a short walk from the closest subway station, Metro Square-Victoria-OACI.
St. Patrick's Basilica Address
454 René Lévesque West, corner of St. Alexandre (entrance St. Alexandre and de la Gauchetière)
Montreal (Québec) H2Z 1A7
Tel: (514) 866-7379
How Long Does It Take to Tour St. Patrick's Basilica?
It depends on if you plan on attending Mass or not. Touring the entire building could take up to 30 minutes.
When Is Mass?
Mass is held every day, Monday through Friday at 12:10 p.m. and 5:15 p.m., Saturdays at 5 p.m. and Sundays at 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. Sunday 11 a.m. masses September through June feature the basilica choir and every third Sunday of the month, Mass is sung in Latin). Note that mass schedules are subject to change without notice. Check here for the St. Patrick's Basilica's detailed Mass schedule.
When Is the St. Patrick's Basilica Open?
The Basilica is open to visitors when Mass is not in progress as of 9 a.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. on weekends. Note that the Basilica closes to visitors as of the beginning of the last Mass of the day. Consult Mass schedule just above. Note that this schedule is subject to change without notice to accommodate funerals, weddings and other activities at the Basilica. Mornings are often the best time to visit the Basilica.
There's no admission fee to visit the Patrick's Basilica. However, donations are always welcomed to help cover building maintenance costs.
Regular metered parking is available on surrounding streets. A pay-per-use underground parking lot is located near the Basilica at 1091 Côte du Beaver Hall.
By foot, the St. Patrick's Basilica is about five minutes from Montreal's entertainment district, 15 minutes from Montreal's Chinatown, and a roughly twenty-minute walk from the Notre-Dame Basilica, one of Old Montreal's most revered attractions.
Before St. Patrick's Basilica
Prior to the construction and consecration of St. Patrick's Basilica, Montreal-based English-speaking Catholics typically attended mass at Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours in Old Montreal. But with the arrival Irish Catholics fleeing hardship and famine in the Old World, the chapel and even its replacement church venues were less and less able to accommodate the congregation's growing numbers.
The Birth of St. Patrick's Basilica
By 1843, a plot of land was purchased to build a new church. By St. Patrick's Day 1847, St. Patrick's Basilica was opened to the public.
Inside St. Patrick's Basilica
Characterized by a Gothic revival exterior, what impresses visitors most is its interior's exquisite attention to detail, notably motifs combining Irish shamrocks with the French fleur-de-lys.