Our Lady's Coronation Part Three - Raphael Brown

Once it became clear to everyone that the Cape was really destined by God to become one of the great shrines of North America, it was only a matter of time before the bishop of Three Rivers would have to call in some order of priests and brothers to take full charge of the work, which soon outgrew the physical capacities of Father Duguay, his vicar, and Good Father Frederick. As early as 1893, Father Duguay had written to Bishop Lafleche: "Even though the Cape means everything to me, I must withdraw next May in favor of a religious order. A better organized group must come and take our place in order to perfect an undertaking that is already well developed." However, the venerable old Bishop knew that he was not going to live much longer, and he merely replied: "My successor will take care of all that ..." And so it happened. After Bishop Lafleche's death in 1898, Father Duguay and Good Father Frederick urgently requested Bishop Francois Xavier Cloutier to find a religious order for the Cape.

THE important historical question now arises: how did the Oblates of Mary Immaculate come to be selected, and to whom is the credit for their selection due? Bishop Cloutier himself will give us the answer. We quote from the booklet on him by Fr. Joyal, O.M.I.

"When I wanted to arrange for a definite organization of the Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary, I wondered which religious order I should call in for that purpose. I therefore asked Father Frederick, who replied: —Choose the Oblates of Mary Immaculate.' " 'Why ?' " 'Because they are very humble and plain mannered men!' "... I chose the Oblate Fathers!"

We may easily imagine the profound joy and relief, mixed perhaps with a certain sadness, with which Father Duguay and Good Father Frederick received this news, early in the year 1902. The former wrote: "When he who has been my advisor, my support, my guardian angel in my priestly life and my providence in financial difficulties —when Father Frederick brought the news . . . ah, that was for us a day filled with joy and consolation. We prayed together at Mary's feet, and we mingled our thanks with our tears of gratitude .. ."

In 1900 Bishop Cloutier declared the Cape an official pilgrimage shrine for the diocese of Three Rivers. Four years later, when the ;fiftieth anniversary of the proclamation of the ;Dogma of the Immaculate Conception was being celebrated throughout the Catholic world, he wrote to Rome for permission to pave the statue of Our Lady of the Cape solemnly crowned, according to the centuries-old custom at her great shrines. In a letter dated May 27, 1904, Cardinal Merry del Val granted this permission, in the name of His Holiness Pope Pius X. The ceremony took place on October 12th of the same year.

This glorious day in the history of the Cape was perhaps also the happiest in all Good Father Frederick's long life, because it brought the perfect fulfilment of the dream for which he and Fathers Desilets and Duguay had first begun to work and pray over a quarter of a century earlier. Now, as a well-earned reward, the humble Franciscan was given the great honor of carrying in the pro-cession, on a richly decorated satin cushion, the beautiful golden Crown which Bishop Cloutier placed on the head of Mary's statue. Incidentally this Crown has a special interest for all English-speaking friends of the Cape, because it was donated in 1898 by a group of English-Canadian ladies of Montreal who, as members of the Third Order of St. Francis, decided to give up their jewels — and not to replace them! — in order to have them made into a splendid crown for Mary. Here too, Good Father Frederick's indirect influence is not hard to guess.

Let us now listen to several witnesses of the Crowning: The celebrations of October 12, 1904, were magnificent. It was an autumn day filled with romantic charm  the sky was cloudless ; the trees were clothed in all their rich fall colours; and despite the freshness of the air, the bright sun shed a marvellous light on every-thing. Sixteen bishops and archbishops and more than four hundred priests and religious had come to the Cape, together with over fifteen thousand pilgrims.

During the masterful sermon by Cardinal Begin of Quebec, Good Father Frederick was evidently deeply moved, especially when he heard Our Lady of the Cape hailed as "the Queen and Protectress of Canada". Later, when all Canada was solemnly consecrated to the Queen of the Holy Rosary, tears of joy were gently flowing down his cheeks.

But was especially as he walked in the 160 Procession, carrying Mary's gleaming Crown on the cushion, that the saintly friar's happiness was most obvious. In his humility he had confided to a friend : "I am quite confused at having been chosen ..." Now his sun-burned face was glowing with a holy joy -7— the joy of a son who is giving a crown to his beloved mother. He seemed just as poor and simple as ever, and with the same devout recollection as on similar solemn occasions, except that now he appeared slightly dazed. One witness recalled later : "His features were radiant with joy, and his eyes shone with happiness. It was striking. And the older I grow, the more this sight stands out in my memory as something supernatural — I believe there was something miraculous about it!

That evening, in the, quiet of the cloister, he repeatedly thanked and blessed the. Lord for having allowed him to be present when a whole nation was consecrated to Mary. "Now," he said to his brothers in religion, "I can sing my 'nunc dimittis ...' 'Now ThoU dost dismiss Thy servant, 0 Lord, according to Thy word, in peace, because my eyes have seen Thy salvation ... "

Thus most beautifully and appropriately ends the splendid heroic epic of Good Father Frederick's historic achievements for the beloved Shrine of our dear Mother in Heaven, the Queen of the Holy Rosary.

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