Permanent exhibition - Part three

His adopted country: Canada 1888-1916

The moment Father Frederic left Canada, Father Léon Provancher and the Bishop of Trois-Rivières, Bishop Louis-François Laflèche, asked that he be allowed to return. Laflèche wished to establish a Commissariat of the Holy Land in Canada that would coordinate in particular the annual collection of money for the holy places. This collection was started in the dioceses of the world at the request of Pope Leo XIII under the recommendation of the Superior General of the Friars Minor.

Father Frederic was assigned to this task. He returned to Québec in June 1888. Some of his confreres, such as Father Augustin, would follow a month later, marking the official return of the Order of Friars Minor to Canada, after they were forced to leave New France following the British conquest of 1758–1760.

The first Commissariat of the Holy Land was established in Trois-Rivières, on a piece of land donated by Bishop Laflèche, where the Franciscan convent still stands.

Father Frederic quickly got down to work. On June 22, he blessed the small shrine at Cap-de-la-Madeleine dedicated to Our Lady of the Holy Rosary.

That evening, accompanied by Father Luc Désilet and engineer Pierre Lacroix, he witnessed the Prodigy of the Eyes, when the statue of the Virgin opened her eyes for five to 10 minutes, according to the three witnesses.

While continuing his work for the Commissariat of the Holy Land, Father Frederic remained connected to the shrine, where he hosted pilgrimages for 14 years. In 1902, when the Oblates of Mary Immaculate took responsibility for the pilgrimages, the shrine was welcoming 30,000 to 40,000 visitors every year.

Father Frederic also promoted pilgrimages to shrines at Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré and Saint Joseph’s Oratory, where he became friends with Brother André Bessette and encouraged him to continue in his devotion to Saint Joseph.

As someone who believed it was important to the faithful to remember the sacrifice of Jesus, Father Frederic worked to establish Stations of the Cross at the Cap-de-la-Madeleine Shrine and at Saint-Elie-de-Caxton in Mauricie, as well as at the Shrine of Reparation in Pointe-aux-Trembles, near Montréal.

His talent for preaching attracted crowds everywhere he spoke, sometimes for several hours. In Trois-Rivières in 1881, the local newspaper wrote: “This illustrious priest from the Holy Land is one of the most rousing preachers you could ever hear.”

In the same way, he managed to promote recruitment to the Franciscan Third Order. The aim of this secular association, founded in 1222 by Saint Francis of Assisi in the Italian city of Bologna, is to bring together married individuals who want to live Franciscan spirituality.

During his ministry, Father Frederic recruited 60,000 people from across Québec; the diocese of Trois-Rivières had the largest number of Third Order members in the world.

A tireless worker, a talented preacher, and a jovial and friendly person, Father Frederic was described by many of his contemporaries as a man of great simplicity, by choice.

Worn out by his decades of work and as a result of stomach cancer, Father Frederic died in Montreal on June 16, 1916, at the age of 77, after suffering for 50 days. His body was transferred to Trois-Rivières and is buried in a crypt in the basement of Saint-Antoine Chapel.


In photos

Permanent exhibition - Part three

Bon Père Frédéric