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Quebec city's Augustines (Hôtel-Dieu hospital)

Hôtel-Dieu Hospital

This religious community was founded in 1637 by the Duchess d’Aiguillon and the Augustines hospitalières de Dieppe (France).  The Hôtel-Dieu de Québec (a hospital) opened two years later when Marie Guenet de Saint-Ignace, Marie Forestier de Saint-Bonaventure and Anne Le Cointre de Saint-Bernard arrived in Québec City. Being the first hospital established north of Mexico, the Hôtel-Dieu, originally intended to treat the native people of the area, quickly became the main civil and military hospital of New France.  The medical care provided by this hospital was comparable to that provided by the best hospitals in France at the time. Destroyed by fire on June 7, 1755, the sick were lodged for several years in the monastery, its walls having better resisted the flames. There have been several significant events that have marked the hospital’s evolution, from the addition of new buildings in 1825 and it being designated as the university hospital in 1855, to the extensions added in 1892, 1930 and 1960, and finally it merging with two other institutions to create CHUQ (Centre hospitalier universitaire de Québec) in 1995. 

Located next to the hospital and surrounded by impressive stone walls, the garden, the Augustine cemetery and the monastery offer a fascinating journey back in time.  The old cloister, constructed between 1695 and 1698 and then restored after the fire of 1755, has conserved its main interior and exterior integrity. With the church, opened in 1803, and the community’s sanctuary, the ensemble of the quadrilateral formed by the côte du Palais, rue des Remparts, rue Hamel and rue Charlevoix constitutes one of the major sites in Old Quebec that cannot be ignored.

The spirituality that inspires them, the way of their canonical life and the mission to which they are devoted make up what the Church designates as what should be the charisma of every religious community. The Augustines are heirs of the monastic tradition and of the communities of brotherhood tradition of which St. Augustine was the main legislator. The love of God and the love of one’s neighbour are the foundations of their spirituality, and are embodied in the works of mercy performed towards the sick and the poor. This charisma distinguishes them from other religious communities. The Augustines, pioneers in healthcare, founded eleven other hospitals throughout the province of Québec. A museum, an archives service and a Catherine-de-Saint-Augustine Centre, all located in the monastery, present the history and spirituality of the community.

Catherine-de-Saint-Augustin information center

The Centre is dedicated to sharing the medical works and mystical life of Marie-Catherine with the public.  Co-founder of the Canadian Church, she dedicated her life to taking care of the sick and destitute.

A reliquary, sculpted by Noël Levasseur in 1717, holding the remains of the Blessed Marie-Catherine is found at the Centre. As well, stained-glass windows that were created by Olivier Ferland, master glazier, in 1985 tell the tale of her arrival in Canada, her spiritual life and her time as a nurse.  Visitors interested in the history and in the life of the pioneers of New France are invited to drop by.  There is also an audiovisual room that presents a slide show and a video on the life of this exceptional person of the 17th century.

First and foremost, the Centre is a place of prayer, but it is also a place where various writings and objects related to Maire-Catherine-de-Saint-Augustin, such as biographies, photos, prayers and medals, are available for the public.

Centre Catherine de Saint-Augustin
32, rue Charlevoix
Québec (Québec)
G1R 5C4

Telephone : (418) 692-2492
Fax : (418) 692-2668
E-mail: centre.catherine@videotron.ca

Blessed Catherine de Saint-Augustin (1632-1668)

Catherine de Longpré was born in Saint-Sauveur-le-Vicomte, Normandy on May 3, 1632.  Raised mainly by her grandparents, she became familiar at a very young age with both the virtues as well as the misery of the poor and the sick, thanks to her grandmother’s kindness towards these people.  As a response to several callings and to her own natural sensitivity towards the poor, she entered the Monastère des Augustines hospitalières de l’Hôtel-Dieu de Bayeux (an Augustine Monastery) in 1644.  She would from then on be known as Marie-Catherine de Saint-Augustin.

In 1648, at the age of 16, she left France in order to assist the Hospitalières de Québec (nurses), who had founded the Hôtel-Dieu nine years before her arrival.  She became very sick during the sea voyage from France to New France but was miraculously healed by the Blessed Virgin Mary.  She arrived in Québec on August 19, and began her job immediately.  She was an expert in economical and hospital functions, as well as a teacher of the noviciate, and so she therefore devoted her life to the service of others.  Moreover, the Hurons affectionately gave her the name “Iakonikonriostha”, meaning “she who makes the interior more beautiful”.  She died on May 8, 1668 at the Hôtel-Dieu de Québec, at the age of 36.
The brief life of Marie-Catherine de Saint-Augustin is known to us thanks mainly to Father Paul Ragueneau, who was her spritual director for twelve years, as well as her first biographer.  The book that he published in 1671, La vie de Mère Catherine de Saint-Augustin (The life of Mother Catherine de Saint-Augustin), is an important testimony of the spirituality of this blessed woman.  The author depicts her as suffering in the presence of demons, but at the same thanking God for initiating her to such pain because it called her to love more.  As a true example of total trust and fidelity towards the “will of God” and the Virgin Mary, she claimed that God meant for Jean de Brébeuf, a Canadian Martyr, to be her guide.
Thanks to her role as co-founder of the Canadian Church and to her involvement in the salvation of New France, Catherine de Saint-Augustin was beatified on April 23, 1989, by Pope John Paul II.    Her steadfast faith, charity, compassion and devotion to the poor are the exemplary qualities that contributed to her beatification.  Her life remains an example of complete abandonment to God’s will and of trust in the Virgin Mary.

“She served the poor with admirable strength and vigour.  She was the most charitable and loving girl in the world towards those who were sick and she was remarkably loved by everyone for her gentleness, confidence and patience…” (written in a letter from Marie de l’Incarnation to her son Claude Martin).

For more detail :

Quebec city's Augustines (Hôtel-Dieu hospital)

  • des Remparts
  • Québec, Québec
  • G1R 3R9
  • Phone: 418-692-2492
  • Fax:
  • Email:
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