"Do you see it? The statue has opened its eyes."
Frédéric Janssoone, 22 June 1888
her crown of glory, Our Lady of the Cape is setting forth to conquer all hearts. Intende, prospere, procede, et regna. O Virgin
of the Cape, we are going to see you, crowned like a queen, going forth to conquer the whole nation. Intende, prospere, et
regna, and lead the whole country to your feet.”
– Fr. Columban, provincial of the Franciscans
in Canada, 11 October 1904
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.
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
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!