The Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel is a church in the district of Old Montreal in Montreal, Quebec. One of the oldest churches in Montreal, it was built in 1771 over the ruins of an earlier chapel.,and it can be reached by the Metro Champs de Mars.
Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys, was born in 1620 in Troyes, France. As a young woman, she taught poor children and recruited other women to help in this effort. In 1653, Marguerite Bourgeoys agreed to go to New France, at the request of the colonial governor, to teach French and First Nations children in the tiny colonial city of Ville-Marie (now Montreal). Just two years later, in a settlement that was still struggling to survive, she began her effort to build a Catholic chapel for the colonists. She opened Montreal's first school in 1658 in an old stable. When the French government sent young, unmarried women to Montreal to marry colonists, Bourgeoys gave them a place to live and taught them about life in New France.
In the 19th century, the chapel came to be a pilgrimage site for the sailors who arrived in the Old Port of Montreal; they would make offerings to the Virgin in gratitude for her "good help" for safe sea voyages. In 1849, Mgr. Ignace Bourget, Bishop of Montreal, gave the chapel a statue of the Virgin as Star of the Sea, which was placed atop the church overlooking the harbour. Emphasizing the connection of the chapel and the port, the chapel is often called the Sailors' Church.
The original Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel burned down in 1754, but a small wooden statue of Mary that Marguerite Bourgeoys brought to Montreal from France survived the fire. When the chapel was rebuilt in 1771, the statue was placed at the side altar that is left of the main altar. In 2005, Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys' remains were moved to a tomb at that same side altar.
The chapel now also houses the Marguerite Bourgeoys Museum, dedicated to the life of St. Marguerite Bourgeoys and to the early history of Montreal and the chapel site. Below the chapel, the crypt is being excavated as an archeological site, which visitors can see. First Nations and French colonial artifacts have been discovered, along with the foundations of the first chapel and the fortifications of the colony. The church's prominent spire can also be climbed, offering views of the Old Port and Saint Lawrence River. In 2005, Marguerite Bourgeoys's mortal remains were brought back to the church, where she now lies in the sanctuary.
Inside the chapel, you will see small model boats containing votive lights hanging from the ceiling. Sailors made the Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel a place of pilgrimage, and the boats represent their devotion to Mary, the mother of Jesus, and their gratitude for safe voyages. The first model boat was presented to the chapel in 1872