2017 marks 70th anniversary of Canada’s consecration to Mary
By Deborah Gyapong
Canadian Catholic News
Photo Caption: Angelina and Dennis Girard see the replica of Our Lady of the Cape, Queen of Canada, that had been processed from the Shrine at Cap-de-Madeleine to Ottawa for the historica Marian Congress of 1947. The statue is missing her crown, but the Girards hope to use her for 70th anniversary celebrations in Ottawa. (Deborah Gyapoing / CCN)
Plans are under way in 2017 to mark the 70th anniversary of Canada’s consecration to Mary in 1947.
The consecration of the Dominion of Canada to Mary, Mother of God, took place June 22, 1947, at the historic Marian Congress in Ottawa. The event brought all levels of government as well as cardinals and bishops from across North America and around the world. Pope Piux XII addressed the Congress via a radio address in French and English.
Dennis Girard, who in 2016 with his wife Angelina wrote a children’s retreat entitled Marian Consecration for ‘Little Souls,’ discovered online a film of the 1947 Congress by Quebec film pioneer Fr. Maurice Proulx.
“This struck me as a big deal; this whole idea that the Dominion of Canada had been consecrated to Mary,” Girard said. “I found it remarkable and something I needed to verify. It was almost unbelievable that most people didn’t know about it.” He noticed the film only had about 900 hits or views.
With the 100th anniversary of the Fatima apparitions in 2017, “I related it to our Lady of Fatima’s message of the importance of consecrating Russia to avoid the errors of Communism spreading,” he said. “It demonstrates the consecration of a country to Our Lady has very significant spiritual relevance and consequences.”
One of those consequences was World War II, Girard said, noting the Congress took place only two years after the war predicted at Fatima took place.
Considering Canada celebrates its 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017, Girard wondered if something should be done to mark the 70th anniversary of this Canadian Marian milestone.
Girard obtained the rights to post the film on the website www.CatholicinCanada.com . When his friend Robert Du Broy saw the film he translated it into English. Du Broy also made a French version of Girard’s trailer and translated other materials for suggested parish celebrations.
Since embarking on their journey, the Girards have discovered Congress-related connections to Canada’s spiritual history that have left them in awe..
The couple already had a devotion to Our Lady of the Cape at the National Shrine to the Blessed Mother at Cap-de-Madeleine in Trois-Rivières, Que. They had dedicated their Marian consecration book to her and discovered a replica of the Our Lady of the Cape statue had been processed from the Shrine through Quebec and Ontario, visiting 340 different parishes before arriving in Ottawa for the 1947 Congress.
The famous statue had been designed after the image of the Immaculate Conception for the Miraculous Medal given to St. Catherine Labouré in 1830. Pope Pius X had crowned her Our Lady of the Cape Queen of Canada in 1904, Girard said. A parishioner had given the statue to the Cap-de-Madeleine parish in 1854.
The Girards hope to use the statue for events marking the Marian Congress anniversary in Ottawa this June. They plan anniversary celebrations that will run from June 17 to 23, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Girard hopes marking the anniversary will help make the miracles at Cap-de-Madeleine better known to a new generation of Canadians.
In the winter of 1867, as the parish was attempting to build a new church, the St. Lawrence River did not freeze over as it usually did, making it impossible to bring building materials across.
Parishioners prayed the Rosary all winter and miraculously pieces of ice began floating down the river, stopping parallel to Cap-de-la-Madeleine. Parishioners were able to form a narrow, 2.3-kilometre ice bridge that lasted from the Feast of St. Joseph to the Feast of the Annunciation, allowing horse-drawn sleighs to transport stones and other materials across.
In June 1888, at the inauguration of the national shrine, a small fieldstone church was dedicated to Our Lady, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, and the statue of Our Lady of the Cape was moved to the main altar.
That evening three men, two of them priests, were in the church praying. They noticed the statue had opened her eyes and “she had the face of a living person,” according to the Shrine’s website. This miracle of the eyes lasted about 10 or 15 minutes.