St. Joseph’s Oratory Montreal

Language often doesn’t flatter big things. They are called huge, gargantuan, monstrous, epic, mammoth, humongous, massive, jumbo, but none of these words are convenient for Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal. Yes, this is one of the world’s largest churches, the largest in Canada, and the third domed basilica in the world by size, but the harmony of proportionally scaled architectural elements as well as the adroit attention to detail demand more subtle attributes.

The basilica found its place on the top of the Mount Royal, as a natural place for the place of worship, and the series of terraces and staircases are leading to the monumental portico supported by four Corinthian pillars. The whole experience of ascent to the church is rightfully compared with the ascent to the “Sacre Coueur” of Paris. The building has inherited the architecture from its well renowned historical predecessors. The octagonal, segmented dome owes its shape to the Italian Renaissance but the church was designed in the classic Beaux-Arts style with very well balanced hierarchy of spaces, rusticated basis and an abundance of classical details. Overlooking the city, seen from the miles afar, it is one of its most perceptible symbols.

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