"Do you see it? The statue has opened its eyes."

Notre Dame du Cap
Pierre Boucher, Governor of Three Rivers, built a church and set up a little shrine to the Virgin, which in 1694 became the center of a local branch of the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary. A larger church was built in 1720. In 1855 a benefactor donated a statue of Our Lady in honor of the recent promulgation of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. This statue remains in the little Church of Our Lady of the Cape, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, Canada's national shrine.

The restored Lady Chapel was dedicated on 22 June 1888. That evening a lame man called Pierre Lacroix was brought into the chapel by Father Desilets and Father Frédéric. The three men experienced an amazing apparition centered on the statue of Our Lady. "She raised her eyes!" Father Desilets later reported. "She looked in front of her as if looking outwards into the distance. Her face was severe and rather sad." The direction of Our Lady's glance was assuredly out over Trois-Rivieres towards Lanoraie, the starting point of our pilgrimage dedicated to her.

The three men swore an oath that what they had seen had truly taken place, and their statement is stored on parchment in the library of the sanctuary to this day. Pierre Lacroix's testimony reads:

I went into the shrine at about seven o'clock in the evening, accompanied by Vicar-General Luc Desilets and the Reverend Father Frédéric. I was walking between the two of them, helped by them. After praying for a while, I looked up at the statue of the Blessed Virgin which was facing directly towards me. As I did so, I saw most distinctly the statue with its eyes wide open in a most natural manner. It was as if it was looking out over our heads towards Three Rivers. I examined this closely without saying anything. Then Vicar-General Desilets, leaving his place on my right, went across to Father Frédéric and I heard him say, "Do you see it?" "Yes: said Father Frédéric, "the statue has its eyes open, hasn't it? But can this really be true?" I then told them that I had seen the same thing. And I make this solemn declaration believing it in conscience to be true and knowing that it has the same force and effect as if made upon oath.

Notre Dame du Cap

Pierre Lacroix's testimony was counter-signed by Father Desilets.

After the miracle of the ice bridge and the apparition of the statue, pilgrims started to converge on Cap de la Madeleine. Fr. Frédéric immediately began a mission to preach the name of the Blessed Virgin throughout the nation, and in 1902 he encouraged the diocesan bishop to install the Oblate Missionaries of Mary Immaculate to supervise the pilgrimages and to be stewards of the shrine.

The shrine is one of the most beautiful of all the world's churches dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. The statue's golden crown was a gift of the Franciscans in 1904, and the rosary which she is holding is made from wood from the olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane. Some of the trees in the garden are two thousand years old and must therefore have been in Gethsemane on the night when Our Lord was betrayed and taken to be crucified.

The statue of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary was crowned under the authority of Pope Pius X in 1904 and again under the authority of Pope Pius XII: it is the only crowned Madonna in Canada. Pope John Paul II made his personal pilgrimage on 10 September 1984. In 1988, the centenary of the apparition, Father Frédéric, one of the first visionaries, was beatified. Many cures and accounts of spiritual blessings have been attested in the name of the Virgin who opened her eyes.

In 2003, seven parishioners of St. Clement Parish, Ottawa, drove and walked the route between Saint-Joseph-de-Lanoraie and the Cape to prepare the way for the Marie Reine du Canada pilgrimage the following year. when 60 pilgrims took part. Fr. Hubert Bizard, FSSP, was already at the Cape that first weekend in 2003 to celebrate Mass in the small shrine for the parish youth group, and the pioneer pilgrims assisted at the Mass. Notre-Dame-du-Cap, Priez pour nous!

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Address: Marie Reine du Canada Pilgrimage,
    c/o 528 Old St. Patrick Street,
    Ottawa, ON K1N 5L5
Phone: (613) 761-6151
Phone: (819) 671-8346
E-mail: info@marie-reine.ca