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Sisters of St. Joseph of Saint-Vallier

S. of St-joseph of St-Vallier

The Sisters of St. Joseph of Saint-Vallier were instituted in 1683 at Saint-Vallier, France by the Abbey of Saint-Vallier, who would later become Quebec City’s second bishop. They had originally been part of the large Congregation of St. Joseph that was founded in 1650 at Puy en Velay. Upon the creation of their order, the Sisters took charge of the small hospital in Saint-Vallier. In their daily lives, they embodied the charisma bequeathed by the hospital’s founder, the Jesuit Father Jean-Pierre Médaille: “Strive to unite people among themselves and with God in our service of the beloved neighbour.”
The congregation survived the French Revolution because of its small size and state of destitution. But the Combes Laws (1901 and 1904) closed the schools of the religious communities and forbade the sisters from teaching. One sister who had come from Quebec, Thérèse de Jésus (Cécile Drolet), suggested to the Mother General that the congregation find a new home in Canada. She was sent to Quebec City in April 1903 and presented a request to Monsignor Bégin, who approved the congregation’s move to his diocese.

When they arrived in Quebec, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Saint-Vallier were given responsibility for 80 elementary schools and high schools, two seniors’ residences, two hospitals, a house of prayer and a student residence.

Faithful today to the inspiration of their founder and heedful of the Church’s calling and the signs of the time, the Sisters fulfil their mission through charitable, pastoral and social activities. They are guided in their work by their concern for justice and the well-being of women. The community is also active in Haiti. For more than 20 years now, men and women have come into the congregation to share in its charismatic evangelization of the Word of God: “Gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad."

St. Joseph's Oratory

In 1911, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Saint-Vallier opened a convent on Chemin Sainte-Foy in Quebec City. A year later, a group of citizens built a monument to the glory of St. Joseph on the grounds of the convent in recognition of the Sisters’ devotion to their patron saint.

The convent’s chapel proved very early on to be too small. In 1915, the Sisters had a larger chapel built beside their home. It was in this new chapel that the Pious Union of St. Joseph was established five years later, in 1920. But due to its popularity, even the new chapel was quickly found to be too small as a place of worship.

In 1925, the congregation obtained approval to build a public chapel, today known as St. Joseph’s Oratory. The ornamentation for the Oratory was completed over a period spanning several years, from 1928 to 1940, by the Italian-born painter and master glass worker, Guido Nincheri, who was the most prolific creator of religious art in North America.

His work at the Oratory is inspired by the life of St. Joseph, the community’s patron saint. In the nave there are eight large paintings and six magnificent stained glass windows that illustrate episodes in the life of St. Joseph, as told in the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Luke.

We see above the arcades the history of Joseph of the Old Testament. The technique with the use of blue and white tones gives an astonishing sense of life to the figures. Through this reference to the Old Testament, the artist establishes a comparison between the Joseph who fed the people of Egypt during the years of famine and St. Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus.

The chapel was expanded in 1931 by the addition of a transept arm dedicated to the cult of St. Joseph in Canada. Above an altar is a large painting that depicts the consecration of Canada to St. Joseph on March 19, 1624 in the presence of the Récollet fathers, Samuel de Champlain, French colonists and Aboriginal people.

The architecture, inspired by the Roman style, is in perfect harmony with the ornamentation. The medallions, rosettes and frames take up the same sober lines, luminous colours and gracious forms that we see in the paintings and stained glass windows. With its majestic frescos and sumptuous décor, the Oratory is an incomparable work of art and a jewel of Quebec City’s religious heritage.

Attractions:
- the painted décor  
- the stained glass windows
- the marble furnishings

Sisters of St. Joseph of Saint-Vallier

  • 560, Chemin Ste-Foy
  • Québec, Québec
  • G1S 2J5
  • Phone: 418-681-7361
  • Fax:
  • Email:
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