In New France, almost everyone was Catholic and the church was at the heart of religious life. People went to mass on Sundays and on holidays, and religious ceremonies were part of every celebration. Events that marked family and public life were also celebrated in the church. Inside the church were sculptures and paintings of religious figures.

Children were born at home and baptized in the church. Newlyweds were married in the church before celebrating at their parents’ homes. People died at home. The priest said a final mass for the deceased before they were buried in the cemetery near the church.

In addition to being important for religion, the church was an important building. It was built on high ground near a crossroads on the seigneur’s estate. The church dominated the landscape and was the largest building on the seigneury. The first pew in the church was reserved for the seigneur. When he died, the seigneur was buried under his pew.

All the habitants of the seigneury went to church on Sundays. The village was built around the church to offer other services to the colonists who lived in the countryside. After mass, the congregation gathered on the church steps to chat and to catch up on the latest news. The church was therefore one of the main gathering places in the community. When the governor or the intendant had orders or regulations he wanted to communicate, he would ask the captain of militia to announce them after mass.

Author: Léon Robichaud

Video narration available in French at http://primaire.recitus.qc.ca/sujets/7/langue-culture-et-religion/159

See also – Traces of the past:

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