Chronicles

Forgotten Traditions

Forgotten TraditionsEveryone’s mind is filled with a multitude of memories: memories of sounds that have been heard so many times, flavors that has been tasted so often, odors smelled time and time again, particular moments... Some memories are unique; others are shared by entire generations.

Collective rituals that punctuate life in villages often generate shared memories. Some of these “traditions” still exist, whereas many others, abandoned, are quietly being forgotten. This new series of chronicles is intended to dust off old traditions that will likely surprise you or maybe even make you feel a little nostalgic.

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First episode
For the Feast of St. Mark, the Procession Takes to the Fields
For the Feast of St. Mark, the Procession Takes to the Fields

© Michel Presseau - All reproduction prohibited without permission.

In the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar, many feast days coincide with important times in the natural cycles. Christmas corresponds to the winter solstice and St. John the Baptist Day corresponds to the summer solstice. Easter, a very important Catholic celebration, takes place as spring returns. Celebrated on April 25, the feast of St. Mark establishes a clear link with agricultural activity. During the course of this feast day, the priest blesses seeds, symbol of life and the renewal of nature.

A Bit of History

In Antiquity, the Romans invoked the gods to ensure good harvests. Since their spring rites resulted in certain excesses, the Roman Catholics wanted to replace them, in the 4th century, with rituals that were more in keeping with their values. They invoked God, through prayer, litanies and processions, which traditionally took place during the Rogation days or the feast of St. Mark..

In Quebec parishes, the St. Mark’s day procession was a lengthy ritual. It started at the church, before Mass. After singing the Exsúrge, Dómine, ádjuva nos, et libera nos propter nomen tuum* and reciting some lines from the major litanies, the procession started. The thurifier lead the way, followed by the processional cross, surrounded by two acolytes carrying candles. The crowd would be organized in two columns, young girls taking their place behind the cross, followed by young boys, men and the clergy, with the officiating priest behind them. Judges, nobles, and then married women concluded the procession. The clergy would wear purple, the symbol of penitence.

The route taken by the procession was planned to ensure that all the fields in the parish were seen. Everyone recited litanies and prayers. The participants occasionally placed small, blessed crosses, called sowing crosses, along the edges of the fields. Back at the church for the Mass, a special blessing was reserved for the sees which the faithful placed on the altar in bags or chests. Seeds for gardens, grain and flowers were all blessed.

Sowing Time

When it is time to sow the seed, the farmer crosses himself. He asks a child to spread the first seeds at the four cardinal points or to bury them one by one in the ground. Once this has been completed, the farmer sorts the blessed seeds and sows them in his field.

Several legends encourage belief in the effectiveness of these rituals. Once concerns a small bean referred to as the bean of the holy sacrament. A very long time ago, in a small village, St. Mark’s day was so rainy that the procession had to walk through freshly sowed fields rather than on the roads. Of the two farmers who were asked for permission to allow the procession to walk through their fields, only one agreed. Of course, at the end of the summer, his harvest was the best and all of his beans had a mark the color of cattle blood. According to some people, this mark was shaped like a monstrance. As a result, the bean was baptized the “bean of the holy sacrament”. It can still be obtained today.

In order to celebrate the arrival of the good weather, a few days after St. Mark’s day, our ancestors took part in another custom, which was brought over from France. To learn more about the May planting, we invite you to return on May 2, 2006.

*In English, this can be translated as “Arise, O Lord, help us and deliver us for Thy Name’s sake”.

Sources
  • BALDESCHI, Giuseppe. Petit cérémonial selon le rite romain: à l’usage des églises de la province ecclésiastique de Québec, extrait du cérémonial, s. l., s.n., 1853, 281 p.
  • DESDOUITS, Anne-Marie. «Au rythme des fêtes et des saisons», Cap-aux-Diamants, no 26, été 1991, pp.10-13.
  • PROVENCHER, Jean et Johanne BLANCHET. C’était le printemps: la vie rurale traditionnelle dans la vallée du Saint-Laurent, Montréal, Boréal Express, 1980, 236 p.
  • SAUVAGEAU, Thérèse. Au matin de notre histoire: souvenirs de nos ancêtres, Sainte-Foy, Anne Sigier, 1992, 223 p.

Second episode
A “Maypole” for the Seignior

For a great many years, the return of spring gave rise to various activities celebrating the fertility of the land. Erecting a maypole, in celebration of trees, is a very old custom that was popular in France from the 17th to the 19th century and transported to New France in the 17th century.

In French tradition, a “maypole” was a very large pine tree, from which the bark and the branches had been stripped, except for a length of three feet at the top, referred to as a bouquet. The tree was decorated with garlands, wreathes, flags, paper flowers and ribbons. The custom of erecting a “maypole” in front of the home of a dignitary, on the first day of May, was intended as a great honor.

In about 1675, this honor was reserved for the captain of the militia, a respected man who assumed a multitude of duties similar to those of a mayor. Erecting a maypole was a way in which to officially recognize his importance. After the conquest, seigniors or other distinguished individuals such as priests were recognized in this manner.

A noisy festivity

On the morning of May 1, the villagers, armed with guns, powder horns and axes, would go to the seignior’s house. Immediately, they would prepare the maypole, dig a hole for it, and install corners to hold it firmly in place. The seignior would pretend to ignore what was going on, despite the tumult.

A first gun shot would notify the seignior that everything was ready. Surrounded by his family, he would receive two emissaries, who had come to ask for permission to plant the maypole. The crowd enthusiastically welcomed the always positive response transmitted to them. After a short prayer, the participants would raise the maypole. It would tower majestically over all of the houses.

Another gun shot would notify the seignior that he would once again have to receive the ambassadors, accompanied by two colonists, carrying goblets of brandy. They would invite the seignior to accept the maypole by spraying it and being the first to shoot at the tree. All those present would imbibe joyfully.

When the seignior would come out, a young man would climb up the maypole and shout “Long live the King, long live the seignior!” and then climb back down. The seignior would shoot his gun at the maypole, to be imitated by all of the participants. The darker the tree would become, the more flattering it was. The festivities would continue at the seignior’s house where the guests would be served meat, sweet cakes and, above all, large quantities of alcohol. With every toast, the men would go out to shoot at the maypole. People would sing, create a ruckus and tell stories*.

Honoring discharged captains

In 1828, at Saint-Benoît and Sainte-Scholastique, the custom of planting the maypole became a powerful means of protest for certain dissatisfied militia men. That year, they erected maypoles not for the militia captains in office but for captains who had been recently relieved of their duties by Governor Dalhousie. As a joke, the legitimate captains were give horrible maypoles painted red and white like barber shop poles.

Maypoles were also erected in other circumstances. For example, in areas in Quebec where the ice breaks up late, such as in the vicinity of Lac Saint-Pierre, people used to erect maypoles directly on the ice bridge. The custom of erecting maypoles was abandoned during the 19th century.

In addition to the maypole, the seignior and the captain of the militia were entitled to other privileges, such as a reserved bench in the church. To learn more about church benches, and the manner in which they were sold at auction, we invite you to return on May 16, 2006.

*This account of the planting of the maypole was inspired by Les anciens Canadiens written by Philippe Aubert de Gaspé.

Sources
  • AUBERT DE GASPÉ, Philippe. Les anciens Canadiens, Montréal, Librairie Beauchemin, 1913, 361 p.
  • DESAUTELS, Yvon. Les coutumes de nos ancêtres, Montréal, Paulines, 1984, 55 p.
  • LACOURSIÈRE Jacques et Hélène-Andrée BIZIER. Nos racines: l’histoire vivante des Québécois, Saint-Laurent, Éditions Transmo, 1979, 144 fasc. (Chapitre 76: La vie de l’esprit)
  • PROVENCHER, Jean et Johanne BLANCHET. C’était le printemps: la vie rurale traditionnelle dans la vallée du Saint-Laurent, Montréal, Boréal Express, 1980, 236 p.

Third episode
Benches for Auction

When we ask someone to describe a church, it is highly likely that they will pay attention to the external architecture, the number of bells, the magnificence of the high altar and the beauty of the ornaments. Church benches are very rarely mentioned, just as no one ever specifies that a car has four wheels. It goes without saying. Yet, the church bench, that completely ordinary piece of furniture, did have its moment of glory and was once coveted passionately!

In the past, when parishioners attended the Sunday worship and the religious festivals regularly, churches were packed. Frequently, dozens of parishioners remained standing near the door and several children would sit on the steps, at the foot of the railing. In about 1830, at Saint-Jean-de-l’île-d’Orléans, there were 400 seats for the 700 faithful who attended the church on a regular basis. Fortunately, all of the churches in Quebec were equipped with benches for the faithful thanks to the efforts of Mgr de Saint-Vallier, among others.

The benches most sought after by the parishioners were those at the front of the church or by the choir wall. From there they could see the ceremonies and hear the celebrant better. The benches at the very back of the church were also highly desirable. Yet, these benches were not all available to those who arrived first. Sold to the highest bidders at auctions, the church benches were acquired by families who kept them as long as the owner, or his widow, was alive and continued to pay the annual rent. In the event of death, the bench would be put back up for auction, but the family retained the right to keep the bench if it could pay a sum equal to the best offer made during the auction.

The bench sale took place on the last Sunday of the year, either in the vestry or on the church steps. It’s easy to imagine the melodramatic scene that played out when a family torn by a recent bereavement lost the family bench and it is easy to picture the epic battles fought to acquire certain benches, particularly as the population grew and benches were harder to come by. Making matters even worse, speculators would acquire several benches and then rent them for profit. As a result of these problems, all church benches were auctioned annually as of the end of the 19th century.

The sale of benches was a major source of revenue for the parish in the 19th century. In about 1878, the parishes in the Saint-Hyacinthe region received up to 90% of their revenue from renting benches.

In addition to its practical advantages, a good church bench could satisfy a thirst for prestige on the part of certain individuals since position in the church reflects social standing. The best bench was reserved for the most important parishioner, the seignior. His bench was located to the right, four feet from the railing. The seignior, could, moreover, be buried under his bench. The militia captain was also entitled to a reserved bench, the first in the middle row. The church wardens were entitled to sit on the magnificent bench located in the choir and, after performing their duties, on the constable’s bench at the back, to supervise the behavior of the faithful. For the rest, it was all a matter of luck.

In order to fill their benches on a regular basis, the churches developed unparalleled means of communication to call the faithful to religious services, namely bells. To learn more about bells and their history, we invite you to return on May 30, 2006.

Sources
  • HUDON, Christine. Prêtres et fidèles dans le diocèse de Saint-Hyacinthe, 1820-1875, Sillery, Septentrion, 1996, 469 p.
  • LÉTOURNEAU, Raymond et Raymonde BONENFANT. L’histoire de Saint-Jean de l’Île d’Orléans à travers les contrats notariés de ventes de bancs, Québec (province), s. n., 1981, 46 p.
  • PROVENCHER, Jean. C’était l’hiver: la vie rurale traditionnelle dans la vallée du Saint-Laurent, Montréal, Boréal Express, 1986, 278 p.

Fourth episode
Baptizing the Bell
Baptizing the Bell

Using several tons of molten metal, cast the cannons, head, waist, lip, bell wall and a clapper. Then assemble it all in a tower and you will have one of the most efficient means of communication humankind has ever known: the bell. Before the development of the radio and television, the bell transmitted messages to entire villages, occasionally over distances of several kilometers.


Constantly present in the sound universe of the village, the bell set the pace for daily life. The voice of the Church, it rang for Mass, marriages, baptisms and funerals. Morning, noon and night, it signaled the time for prayer, called the Angelus as well as the time for the evening service, vespers. The voice of the community, it rang out the time for curfews and for opening the market; it also sounded the tocsin to warn of dangers. For the lost wanderer or the captain sailing through fog, the sound of the bell provided a beacon.

Before being rung for the first time, the bell would be consecrated in a ceremony. Dressed in white, the bishop would use incense, salt, holy water, holy oil and the chrism. The bell would be decorated with flowers and covered with a white lace sheet. It would be surrounded by all those who sponsored it, as well as benefactors, who often served as an inspiration for the name given to the bell. Since this ceremony resembled a baptism in many respects, it was often referred to as “baptizing the bell”.

According to the Rituel du diocèse de Québec by Mgr de Saint-Vallier, the baptism of a bell started with an exorcism to cast out the evil spirits and purify the bell. The consecration ceremony involved several activities, including unctions, separated by blessings and psalms. The celebrant would evoke the bell’s function of protecting and calling, encouraging the faithful to consider the ringing of the bell as an invitation to think of the final judgment and devote time to God.

Certain blessings that are used for the bell take place even before it is manufactured. In fact, the priest may bless the molten iron, copper and pewter at the bell-maker’s shop. In New France, bell-makers were itinerant workers, traveling about as needed. In the 19th century, smelting plants, such as that of the Molsons, took over, manufacturing larger bells. Many bells in Quebec were imported from Europe, such as that in the église Notre-Dame.

According to popular belief, bells have the power to protect people from catastrophes such as storms, lightning and epidemics. Some bells are inscribed with the words, “Protect us, O lord, from storms and lightning”. According to another popular belief, bells all go traveling once a year, at Easter. They ring for the last time on Maundy Thursday and are back in their places for the Gloria on Saturday. During their absence rattles are used to call the faithful. Some say that the bells visit the Pope; others say that they search for the key to the pantry so they can feast upon their return. One thing is certain, children, who were intrigued by bells, have always imagined all kinds of fantastic means of transportation for the bells.

Sometimes, the bell would ring to call the children to the church for their catechism lessons. To learn more about “walking to the catechism”, we invite you to come back on June 13, 2006.

Sources
  • BOUCHARD, Léonard. Le Québec et ses cloches, Campus Notre-Dame-de-Foy, Éditions de l’Airain, 1990, 466 p.
  • POMERLEAU, Jeanne. Métiers ambulants d’autrefois, Montréal, Guérin, 1990, 467 p.
  • PROVENCHER, Jean et Johanne BLANCHET. C’était le printemps: la vie rurale traditionnelle dans la vallée du Saint-Laurent, Montréal, Boréal Express, 1980, 236 p.
  • ROBINAULT-JAULIN, Arnaud. Cloches: voix de Dieu, messagères des hommes, Paris, Desclée de Brouwer, 2003, 127 p.

Fifth episode
Walking to the Catechism
Walking to the Catechism

© Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec 2002-2005, digital collection

The morning of the big day when catechism course was to begin, the 10- or 11-year old child would be the object of special attention. His mother would wash him carefully and have him put on his finest clothes. When the bell rang, he would have to drop everything and go to the church where the priest would be waiting for him. This day, he would meet children from all corners of the parish. The young people would be excited, proud, or anxious to be old enough to prepare to receive a very important sacrament, a symbol of their passage from childhood to the adult world: their first communion.

In Quebec, Le petit catéchisme served as the basic manual for catechism lessons. In principal, the children were already very familiar with this book since their parents were encouraged to teach it to them, starting at the age of seven. If the parents could not do this, the school teacher made sure they knew it by heart. The catechism presents the Roman Catholic doctrine in the form of questions and answers. In the 16th century, shortly after the Council of Trent, the first catechism was published to remedy the ignorance of the priests and the faithful. New France had its own catechism as of 1702. The principles of the religion, the commandments of God and the Church, Christian duties, the sense of ritual and the requirements for receiving the sacraments are presented in such works, intended for adults or children.

In Quebec, the priests were encouraged to give catechism courses to all parishioners, regardless of their age, every Sunday, and for all the obligatory feast days during the year. In fact, the catechism was essentially taught to all children preparing for their first communion and, as a result of the difficulties involved in traveling, only during good weather. The catechism sessions often lasted half a day. Boys sat on the “side of the gospel” namely to the left of the altar, and girls sat on the “side of the epistle”, namely to the right.

After reviewing the previous lesson, the priest would teach the day’s lesson, explaining the catechism to the children in simple words. He would ask the children questions and they would often have to answer in their own words to show that they had understood. These lessons were separated by prayers, chants, confessions and recreational periods. In addition to training the children’s minds, the priest also tried to train their hearts and instruct them in the values of obedience, caution and respect. By threatening to send them home, a supreme dishonor, the priest easily managed to calm the rebellious ones.

As Lionel Groulx wrote in Les rapaillages, the children “walking to the catechism” enjoyed a special status in the village. They were expected to demonstrate exemplary wisdom that was both serious and thoughtful. During the course of the year following their first communion, they would be responsible for religious readings at home. They would be admired by the younger children and enjoyed certain privileges while studying the catechism, such as ringing the bells, when the occasion arose.

Another sacrament required even more preparation than the first communion. To learn more about the sacrament of marriage, we invite you to come back on June 27, 2006.

Sources
  • GROULX, Lionel. Les rapaillages: contes, Saint-Laurent, Bibliothèque québécoise, 2004 (1916), 128 p.
  • HUDON, Christine. Prêtres et fidèles dans le diocèse de Saint-Hyacinthe 1820-1875, Sillery, Septentrion, 469 p.
  • JOHNSTON, Andrew John Bayly. La religion dans la vie à Louisbourg 1713-1758. Ottawa, Ministre des Approvisionnements et Services Canada, 1988, 267 p.

Sixth episode
Saying “I do” at the Foot of the Altar
Saying “I do” at the Foot of the Altar

An important moment that is highlighted with much rejoicing, marriage is a significant rite of passage through which young people enter into the adult world for good. In the Quebec of the past, the winter was the preferred season for weddings, since farm work was less demanding and there was more time for preparing for the wedding and, of course, for celebrating it.

Any proper marriage starts with the young people seeing each other for several months, during which time the young man would ask for permission to spend his evenings with a young woman. Closely supervised during these evenings, he would always find a pretext for getting closer to his intended. He could, for example, hold her hands for a few moments while giving her a gift, at least until the chaperone would ask him if he had cold hands. It would often be the same chaperone who would bring the evening to an end subtly informing the lovebirds that she had put up with enough.

If these encounters were satisfactory, the would-be groom would make a proposal to his future mother-in-law. Encouraged, he would “ask the big question” a few days later. This was a solemn occasion that took place in the presence of the future father-in-law. At this time, the young man would be accompanied by his own father. The parents of the young girl would be looking for a good match for their daughter, namely a man of means and, if possible, someone who would inherit. On the other hand, they would not welcome those who had beggars in their families of men whose status or age was too different from those of their daughter. As the Quebec saying goes “Mariez-vous à votre porte avec des gens de votre sorte”, (marry close to home with someone of your kind), which is wise advice for people who want to avoid disaster.

If the response was positive, the parents and the future spouses would agree as to the material arrangements for the marriage, such as a dowry, which could be paid in money as well as in furniture, household linens and animals. A contract would be signed before a notary. The date would be discussed, taking care to avoid the seasons of Lent and Advent, which were times of penitence. As of 1790, Tuesdays became more popular than Mondays for weddings so that the preparations did not interfere with the religious obligations of Sundays. Once the marriage was approved by the priest, he would announce it on three Sundays, following Mass. This was called publishing the bans.

Thus, the preparations for the marriage would be well underway. The bride and the women in the family would make her trousseau: tablecloths, curtains, linens, sheets, carpets, blankets. As of the 20th century, people started to purchase some of these items. Then phenomenal quantities of food were prepared for the wedding: stews, roasts, lard, mutton and meat pies. All this food kept well since most weddings took place in the winter.

Le grand oui au pied de l'autelOn the morning of the big day, the groom and his family would often go to the bride’s house to form the wedding procession. The bride and her father would head the procession, followed by the best man and maid of honor. The groom and his father would bring up the rear. The ceremony was serious. The priest would start by making sure there was no reason to prevent the marriage. The bride and groom, after first making their confession, would exchange simple vows and the groom would give the bride a ring that had been blessed, sealing the marriage. The priest would then bless both spouses and exhort them to respect the Christian obligations of marriage. Then everyone would take part in Mass. The registers would be signed in the sacristy at the end of the celebration. For clandestine weddings, the ceremony was even quicker!

On the way home, the procession would wander through all of the streets in the village. The newly-weds would be at the head of the procession and the fathers at the rear. Everyone would then head over to the home of the bride’s family to start the festivities, which sometimes lasted three or four days, with rest periods interspersed between eating and dancing. During these events, young people from the village would join the wedding party. Some weddings were attended by so many people that several houses were required: one for eating, another for dancing and a third for sleeping! The wedding festivities ended at the groom’s house, a very symbolic move for the new wife who joined a new family with her marriage.

In order to avoid the tumult, the new spouses would spend their wedding night at a neighbor’s house. The bride’s mother would prepare their room and place a delicate nightdress on the marital bed. The honeymoon trip, which greatly shortened the wedding celebrations and even replaced them, became popular with the middle class in the 19th century. It became a general tradition in the 20th century.

This is the end of the series of chronicles on Forgotten Traditions.

Sources
  • LACHANCE, André. Vivre, aimer et mourir en Nouvelle-France: la vie quotidienne aux 17e et 18th centurys, Montréal, Libre Expression, 2000, 222 p.
  • LEMIEUX, Denise et Lucie MERCIER. Les femmes au tournant du siècle 1880-1940: âges de la vie, maternité et quotidien, Québec, Institut québécois de recherche sur la culture, 1989, 389 p.
  • PROVENCHER, Jean. C’était l’hiver: la vie rurale traditionnelle dans la vallée du Saint-Laurent, Montréal, Boréal express, 1986, 278 p.
  • SAUVAGEAU, Thérèse. Au matin de notre histoire: souvenirs de nos ancêtres, Sainte-Foy, Éditions Anne Sigier, 1992, 223 p.

Back 

Blasted Gaumin!
It was a French man, by the name of Gaumin who was the first person who managed to take part in a clandestine marriage, which was completely legal! In fact, since a decree issued by the Council of Trent, Tametsi, stipulated that a valid marriage had to take place in the presence of a priest and two or three witnesses, Gaumin decided to turn up unexpectedly before the priest, with his future wife and his witnesses., and declare that he was married, fulfilling the conditions of Tametsi. Likewise, certain couples would attend a regular service, station themselves at the back of the church and exchange their vows before witnesses. Some of these marriages occurred in New France as well, giving rise to the expression, “se marier à la gaumine” (getting married like Gaumin).
Tying the needle
When the vows were being exchanged, it was important to make sure that no one knotted
What an uproar!
Marrying beneath one’s station, getting married again before the bereavement period ended and large age differences gave gangs of idle young men a good pretext to create an uproar and play tricks. In French, this was called a “charivari”. They would create pandemonium, often for several nights, in from of the victim’s house, who might try to buy some peace and quiet by paying a tax or by handing out drinks and gifts.
A large household!
Marrying an heir meant moving into a good house, on a good piece of land. Nevertheless, it also involved certain constraints such as living with the in-laws and keeping the house, where all the members of the husband’s family would gather
Setting out the big log
The people responsible for chaperoning a young couple would find numerous ways in which to indicate that the evening was over. For example, a knitter would drop her needles or a smoker would clean out his pipe. Putting a big log on the fire for the night was another way of getting the message across.
Peppermints of love
It was a very popular trend to give the loved one peppermints, small mint-flavored candies on which messages of love or friendship were written.
A crazy answer
One Sunday, in February, in 1748, the Récollet priest, Pierre d’Alcantara Cabaret asked a young girl if she could tell him what l’Espérance was (while “espérance” means “hope” in English, it can also be a family name). She replied, “Oh, yes, my Father, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, L’Espérance is a tall sergeant from Artois who sleeps with my mother every night”!
Grande-Marie
In 1843, La Tempérance and La Persévérance, the two towers in Montreal’s Église Notre-Dame were finally ready for their bells, which were manufactured in the Whitechapel smelting plant in London. First the 10-bell carillon crossed the ocean, followed by the big bell. This 11-ton bell is almost as large as Emmanuel, the big bell of the Cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-Paris, which weights 13 tons. When it arrived in Montreal, the large, flag-draped bell was pulled through the streets of the city on a cart drawn by men. Named the Grande-Marie, it was baptized by Mgr Bourget. It took ten men to ring this bell. Unfortunately, it cracked after a few months of use and was replaced by the current big bell, Marie-Jean-Baptiste, which was cast in 1847.
Evil spirits get out!
An exorcism is practiced in the case of a child to be baptized before he enters the church. The priest exorcises the child by placing salt in his mouth and saliva in his nostrils and ears.
Fire!
Very easy to remember, the sound of the tocsin is produced by striking the bell quickly, with double stokes, on a single side with the clapper.
The Angelus
Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariae, are the first words of the prayer known as the Angelus. In English, this means, “The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary”. This prayer refers to the mystery of the Incarnation, namely the manner in which Jesus became man by being born to a virgin.
Ringing the bells!
The bell became a part of daily life and was even incorporated in many expressions. For example, “saved by the bell” means to be saved by a last-minute intervention. Also, something that “rings true” is correct and something that “rings a bell” sounds familiar or stirs a vague memory. Finally “for whom the bell tolls” refers to the fact that whatever affects one of us affects us all
A famous seigniorial bench
In 1871, the last Seignior of Saint-Jean-Port-Joli passed away. It was Philippe Aubert de Gaspé, author of Les anciens Canadiens. Although the seigniorial regime had been abolished since 1854, the author was given permission to be buried under the seigniorial bench, next to his wife, who had been buried there in 1847. Over the years, the old gated benches in the Église de Saint-Jean-Port-Joli were replaced, with the exception of the seigniorial bench, which is still there.
Money for the love of God
The parish also received income from the obligatory tithe, which accounted for 1/13 then 1/26 of all harvests, campaigns, special campaigns for major projects, benefit activities such as bazaars, and lotteries and surplus fees, namely amounts collected for special masses, baptisms, marriages and burials, exemptions from fasts and the dispensation of the bans.
Benches for auction
The bench auction affected all benches for which no payment had been made for more than six months, including those whose owners had died during the course of the year, who owners had moved away from the parish for more than a year and those whose owner, a widow, had remarried.
Churches without benches
In France, certain churches have no benches. The faithful had to bring their own seats with them. They knelt directly on the floor – or on the straw during the cold season. In New France, Mgr de Saint-Vallier, Bishop from 1687 to 1727, rejected this situation and invited the wardens of all the parishes that had no benches to make some.
Colonial Militia
At the King’s orders and in order to ensure the defense of New France, Governor Frontenac set up a militia, starting in about 1675, including all men between the ages of 16 and 60, who were able to bear arms, with the exception of clerics and seigniors. A militia captain was appointed in each parish to supervise these troops. He became a privileged intermediary between the State and the citizens.
Acolytes
The acolytes are two people who accompany and assist the priest, the deacon and the sub-deacon, during religious ceremonies, particularly at the altar.
Thurifier
This is the priest carrying the incense burner during religious ceremonies.
Rogation Days
In about 474, a Gallic bishop, St. Mamertus, implemented the Rogation days. Theses days involve three days of processions and litanies during which God is asked to protect the faithful from various evils. The Rogation days take place just prior to Ascension, at which time Jesus’ miraculous ascension to heaven is commemorated, which is celebrated 40 days after Easter.
Litanies
Litanies are public prayers that are relatively long and repetitive. On St. Mark’s day we pray to the Saints, invoking them one by one. After each saint is invoked, the celebrants repeat “Pray for us”.