History of the Shrine of Saint Marguerite d'Youville in Varennes

Sainte Marguerite d'Youville exhibitionCollection Sanctuaire

Mother d’Youville was beatified in Rome on 3 May 1959.  Following the beatification, Bishop Gérard-Marie Coderre of the Diocese of Saint Jean de Québec (Saint Jean-Longueuil today) promoted the construction of the Sanctuary in Varennes on the site of the birth of Canada’s first native-born Beatified.   It was officially inaugurated on 25 June 1951 with a Solemn High Mass preceded by a parade of allegorical floats representing the various stages of the life of Marguerite d’Youville.

This sanctuary is primarily a shrine for Mother d’Youville, where she can be honoured and her spirituality made known. The latter consists of trust in God the Father and compassion for the deprived and afflicted. The sanctuary welcomes pilgrims on private visits, in groups, and on diocesan pilgrimages. The liturgical feast day of Mother d’Youville is 16 October.

In October 1971, the diocesan bishop entrusted in the administration of the Sanctuary to the Grey Nuns of Montreal, the community founded by Saint Marguerite d'Youville. The following is a list of the successive Directors: Sister Emma Henri (1961-1980), Sister Blandine Lévesque (1980-1989), Ms. Gabrielle Gagné (1989-1993), Sister Gabrielle Morin (1993-1999), and Sister Simone Ouellet (2000-2002).

In Cana, Israel, on 26 October 1975, the Sanctuary of Mother d’Youville of Varennes was twinned with the Sanctuary of Jesus’ First Miracle in Cana. Sister Emma Henri, accompanied by 22 people, participated in the celebration. A letter of congratulations was sent from Father Maurice Lafond, CSC, the parish priest of Varennes. In 1980, a stained-glass window created by Mr. Claude Bettinger was installed in the church of Kafar-Cana to commemorate the twinning.

In 2003, the Sanctuary was restored to the Diocese of Saint Jean-Longueuil, which appointed the members of the Administrative Council to manage the activities of the Sanctuary. In 2010, following the announcement of the return of the Mortal Remains of Saint Marguerite d'Youville to Varennes, the Sanctuary’s building was transformed into an exhibition site devoted to the life and works of Saint Marguerite.

Since 9 December 2010, the Sanctuary of Saint Marguerite d'Youville has comprised a permanent exhibtion, a funerary chapel in the Basilica of Saint Anne of Varennes, where the tomb of Saint Marguerite d’Youville is located, and the Grey House, a reception centre where pilgrims can rest, and a place for community mutual aid activities.