Sainte-Agnès Church

The History of Sainte-Agnès Church

The Sainte-Agnès Church was built in the early 1900s when Lac-Mégantic was burgeoning with the advent of the train. Priest Choquette wanted a majestic church, a major construction demonstrating a living and successful faith.

The construction was split into two phases: the death of the first architect in 1902 suspended the work. The unfinished stone base of the church was used as a worship space until the work was resumed in 1911.

In October of 1913, the construction was finished with a solemn blessing. The church is named Sainte-Agnès, after a young martyr who embodied the riches of the faith, refusing to marry the Roma governor’s son to dedicate her life to Jesus Christ, circa 305. It is also a small nod to the village where the first chapel was located: Agnès, named after the Prime Minister John A. Macdonald’s wife, Lady Agnès Macdonald.

The 1950s were a dark period for the Sainte-Agnès Church. In a large church purification movement, the rich and luxurious indoor decoration was permanently modified. The new wooden decoration is similar to the current one. The outside was minimally altered. The church remains an interesting building for architecture enthusiasts.

Photo: L’Écho de Frontenac’s records

Historical Stained Glass Window

In the turn of the 20th century, the Jesuit Fathers in London wanted to replace their church waning stained glass. The shop responsible for the creation of a new stained glass window removed, cleaned, repaired and strengthened the old one.

Coincidentally, the restored stained glass crossed the ocean and found its way into the hands of priest Joseph-Eugène Choquette, in charge of the Sainte-Agnès parish. A parishioner from Compton would have offered it to him.

On July 18, 1913, the vestry assembly approved the modifications to the chevet wall of Sainte-Agnès Church, then under construction, to receive this huge piece of art.

The Tree of Jesse, a Jesus’s genealogy schematization according to Saint-Matthew and Saint-Luke, is represented by nine lancet arches forming the stained glass lower part. In Québec’s corpus, this would be the only stained glass window to address this subject. The upper part, the tympanum, contains scenes of the Blessed Virgin. This stained glass window must be read from bottom to top.

The church is open to visitors all summer from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Church’s Consecration

The Sainte-Agnès Church is known in the surroundings as a major work because of its impressive dimensions, its complexity, its ornamentation and the deployment of its architectural elements. This building is a matter of pride and is considered as a symbol of the people of Lac-Mégantic’s faith.

While visiting the church, you will notice on the walls 12 crosses with 12 votive candles: they represent the consecration. This ceremony was held on October 27, 2013, 100 years after its solemn blessing. A consecrated church is a living church. This recognition is a tribute to the community strength and hope.

Picture of the church circa 1950

The Architecture Brought to Light

In the evening, a hundred lights illuminate the front and sides of Sainte-Agnès Church. Designed by Ombrages studio from Québec, this enlightenment project was rewarded in renowned contests:

1st prize, IDA Québec 2016 (International Dark-Sky Association);
3rd world prize, Dark Awards Architecture 2015-2016.

Throughout the year, the church is illuminated every night. From June 24 to Thanksgiving Day (Canada), between 9:00 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. you can admire the play of lights.

Choosing performing technologies allows the reduction of light pollution and the respect of the Mont-Megantic International Dark Sky Reserve standards, which Lac-Mégantic is part of, while showcasing the architecture.

The Sainte-Agnès Church, a key place in the middle of Lac-Mégantic.

Photo: Claude Grenier



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