The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception is a large masonry church building located on Rice Street in in the City of Edmundston. It is the Episcopal Seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Edmundston.
Until 1872, the parishioners of Petit-Sault (Edmundston) had to go to Saint-Basile to fulfill their religious duties. But over the years, the small hamlet that formed at the confluence of the Madawaska River and the Saint John River has grown.
The first step was the foundation of a mission in 1872, under the name of Notre Dame du Petit-Sault or Notre Dame de Madawaska. James Rogers, Bishop of the Diocese of Chatham, authorized the construction of a small chapel on land donated by Mr. Francis Rice. Every Sunday for eight years the priests of Saint-Basile came to celebrate mass.
Then in 1880 the residents of Petit-Sault made representations to the religious authorities to obtain a resident priest. Petit-Sault already had 102 families. Monsignor Rogers therefore decided to raise the missions of Saint-Jacques and Notre Dame du Petit-Sault at the same time to the status of parish and he asked Father Louis-Côme D’Amours to take the lead.
Father D’Amours first resided in Saint-Jacques, then at the invitation of the parishioners of Petit-Sault, he moved into Costello House, located on Canada Street, a house that was placed at his disposal.
In 1881 the construction of the first church began. It was open to worship in the summer of 1882. The chapel was converted into a presbytery.
Father D’Amours established the parish. After 28 years of toil, he died on March 3, 1908.
On March 23 of the same year, Father William J. Conway came to take the position and remained there for 53 years, until his death on January 16, 1961. The work of this devoted priest is extraordinary. He is credited with the present cathedral and presbytery.
The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, remarkable for its architecture, was inaugurated on February 20, 1927, a work realized thanks to the zeal of Father William J. Conway and the generosity of the parishioners. He enlarged the convent of the Daughters of Wisdom, saw to the construction of the Educational Center and Mont Sainte-Marie. He also built the church and the parsonage of St. Joseph, which was a mission served by the Immaculate Conception.
The craftsmanship exhibited in the building in terms of its nature, scale and location, have made it a landmark and focal point.
The original building plans were developed by architects Beaulé and Morissette of Quebec City who employed a blend of Gothic and Romanesque styles.
The interior and exterior decorations are the result of numerous professional artisans such as Nincheri, Bonnet, Laporte and Bourgault.
In terms of interior building materials, of particular interest is the use of 21 types of stone and marble from Europe, Africa and North America, these combined, result in the associated aesthetic value of the place. Mgr. W.J. Conway instigated the construction of the building as well a number of other buildings in the region.
Resource: Diocese of Edmundston
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