Deeply Rooted in the History of the Founding of Montréal, The Grand Séminaire de Montréal Now Includes Five Architectural Elements Classified as Heritage Assets

MONTRÉAL, March 15, 2017 /CNW Telbec/ - The Grand Séminaire de Montréal, built by the Sulpicians 160 years ago, has seen its heritage enhancement efforts rewarded with five of its architectural elements recently designated as heritage assets by the Québec Government's ministère de la Culture et des Communications. Included are the chapel, the crypt, the central staircase, the library reserve and the employee chapel.

The announcement was made today from the main chapel, in the presence of the Archbishop of Montréal, his Excellency Monsignor Christian Lépine, the Montréal City Council Chair, Mr. Frantz Benjamin, the rector of the Grand Séminaire de Montréal, Jaroslaw Kaufmann, PSS, and of the Executive Director of the Fondation du Grand Séminaire de Montréal, Mr. Sébastien Froidevaux.

"We are proud that the heritage value of the Grand Séminaire de Montréal has now been recognized. The time is right, on the eve of the 375th anniversary of Montréal, for the people of Québec to discover its cultural and historical treasures," said rector father Jaroslav Kaufmann, PSS. "The Priests of Saint-Sulpice were witnesses and architects of the creation of Montréal, and their contribution is an integral part of the city's evolution over the centuries."

The inclusion in the cultural heritage register indicates the government's recognition of the Grand Séminaire de Montréal's artistic, historic and decorative assets, based on the value added from their association with the Sulpicians and their activities, which have greatly contributed to the development of Montréal.

In this commemorative year, we cannot forget the part the Priests of St. Sulpice played in the establishment of the permanent village of Ville-Marie and the founding of Montréal.

The origins of Montréal and the Sulpicians: 360 years of history
In 1640, a French priest named Jean-Jacques Olier de Verneuil, who would later found the Compagnie des prêtres de Saint-Sulpice in 1645, created, alongside Jérôme Le Royer, the Société Notre-Dame de Montréal, whose mission it was to evangelize the Colony of la Nouvelle-France, and was granted the concession of the Island of Montréal for this purpose.

Arriving in 1642 with Jeanne Mance, and under the leadership of Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve, a few nobles, religious settlers and colonists recruited by the Société de Notre-Dame de Montréal to take possession of their concession, settled in Ville-Marie. On August 12, 1657, four Sulpicians sent by Olier arrived and provided spiritual service. Upon the death of its two founders in 1663, the Société de Notre-Dame de Montréal was dissolved and bequeathed its assets, the seigneury of the Island of Montréal, to the Compagnie des Prêtres de Saint-Sulpice. The Sulpicians deployed all their efforts to ensure the settlement of the island, which they would own until 1840. 

As architects of Montréal's religious life, they built the first parish church in 1672, and what is known today as Notre-Dame Church, inaugurated in 1829. Several other churches were also built, including St. Patrick, an English Catholic church. In 1767, they founded the Collège de Montréal, adjacent to the Grand Séminaire, whose construction started a few years after. They also built the city's first cemeteries, including the Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery in 1854.

The current site of the Grand Séminaire de Montréal was first used in 1675 by the Sulpicians as a place for the evangelization of Amerindians from many nations, known as the Mission de la Montagne. Occupying the eastern slope of Mount Royal and located outside the fortification walls of Ville-Marie, the site was home to the original buildings of the Séminaire. All that remains today are the towers of the Fort des Messieurs de Saint-Sulpice.

The site, mostly rural and used for evangelization and education, was transformed into a retirement home for the Sulpicians. In 1840, a short few years after the diocese of Montréal was created, Bishop  Ignace Bourget entrusted the education of the diocesan Catholic clergy to the Sulpicians. From 1855 to 1857, they proceeded to erect the current building of the Grand Séminaire de Montréal, designed by architect John Ostell, and located on what is now Sherbrooke Street.

A site for theological education today
To this day, the Grand Séminaire de Montréal remains committed to theological education, which is provided by the Institut de formation théologique de Montréal, and is attested by degrees in philosophy, theology and pastoral theology. Over the years, the Sulpicians have trained more than 6,000 priests, religious and laypeople found across the country. Its best-known graduates include Archbishop Jean-Claude Turcotte, Bishop of Montréal from 1990 to 2012, and Cardinal Marc Ouellet, rector of the Grand Séminaire de Montréal from 1990 to 1994 and Bishop of Québec City from 2003 to 2010.

Event this summer
The cultural and religious heritage of the Sulpicians, dating back to the creation of Montréal, will be showcased this summer at an exhibition to be held at the Vieux Séminaire de Saint-Sulpice, next to Notre-Dame Church, on Place d'Armes, allowing Montrealers and Quebecers to go back in time and discover their past.

For more information about the Fondation du Grand Séminaire de Montréal: 
For more information about the Grand Séminaire de Montréal: 
For more information about the Institut de formation théologique de Montréal:

Documents and photos available at the following link: Press Kit


SOURCE Grand Séminaire de Montréal

For further information: or for interview requests, please contact: Marie-Emmanuelle Khoury, Torchia Communications,, Cell: 514 973-9655; Paul Vaillancourt III, Torchia Communications,, Cell: 514 996-6224

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