Cape Breton's Magazine

> Issue 55 > Page 45 - Bishop Plessis Visits Cape Breton, 1815

Page 45 - Bishop Plessis Visits Cape Breton, 1815

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1990/8/1 (259 reads)

result that it has only four closed box benches which occupy the en? tire nave, and from which he is careful to keep one under lock and key for his own and for his family's use, though they barely come to church because they have grown indifferent to religion. He is not an exception, in fact it is generalized among the small number of Catho? lics in this town. The Sydney chapel does not have a main door but a small one on one of the sides, which admits only one at the time. Behind the sanc? tuary there is a roofless wooden tower, and in this tower there is a very small bell whose sound penetrates dully through the clapboards when it is rung with the enormous rope that is suspended from it. 24 - It was in this spot that the bishop and his companions celebrated mass on the feast of St. John the Baptist, in the presence of a dozen Catholics, none of whom came to confession, though they had been quite literally invited to do so. The number of Protestants who came to mass was greater than the Catholics. The prelate nevertheless brought the Word to this assembly and explained as best he could in English the first three demands of the Lord's Prayer. However, antici? pating that the following day, which was a Sunday, curiosity would bring a larger number of Protestants and that the number of Catho? lics would not change, and being further informed that there was a larger number of Catholics at the site of the mine and in its vicinity, he determined to go there immediately. He took his leave of General Swaine, who offered all imaginable sen/ices, and hurriedly left a place where it would have been necessary to preach for three weeks in a row in order to awaken the much dulled faith of the Catholics who live in the town and surrounding area. He determined they and those of Menadou should have an annual visitation, by the means of which it will be possible to see in a few years what can be expected of this poor Christian community, entrusted specifically to the mini? strations and zeal of Father Manseau of Tracadie. At the mine, it was very difficult to find a suitable place for the following day celebration. The schooner having anchored off a league above Sydney, the bishop asked Mr. Lejamtel to attend to this the same eve? ning. Mr. Lejamtel is not as bold and as adroit as he is a good priest. He quite simply asked Mr. Ritchie, whose house is a little above the mine, and, instead of asking for one of the rooms in his large house, where the Holy Mysteries could have been decently celebrated, he only asked if he would lend his barn for the purpose. The latter, con? forming himself to the specific request, agreed with good grace to lend his barn. However, it was divided in several compartments occupied here by sheep, there by turkeys, another one by ducks, etc., it was necessary to desist. He then offered him a choice between the miners' kitchen and the loft of a stable. This kitchen is horribly dirty because of the great quantity of coal that is burned there daily, and by the filthi- ness of the people who regularly retire there-some 30 men-and who used the adjoining rooms as a dormitory, even dirtier than the kitchen itself. The stable was a vast stmcture capable of housing 20 horses used in the mines. The loft was empty and provided a room some 50 feet long by 30 in width, waterproofed and with proper flooring made from solid beams, with a door at each end. Mr. Ritchie became so per? suaded that, of the three proposed sites, this one was the most con? venient, so that the very same evening, he had it swept up and had all the horses who lodged below put outside, if only, in doing so, he could also have eliminated their odour! 25 - in this state of affairs, the bishop disembarked on Sunday morn? ing. After walking 2 to 3 miles he arrived at the mine where he was promptly shown the locale thus prepared. He agreed that the room was fairly clean and large enough but it was the loft of a stable and this notion revolted him. He was also repulsed by the horses' odour which wafted up from the opened cribs on each side of the building. Nevertheless, morning was passing quickly and, informed of the arri? val of the bishop, the people converged on the site from everywhere. Finally, reflecting that the Saviour of the world had deigned to be born in a barn, he became convinced that He would not mind being sacrificed above the cribs of another and, consequently, he had an altar set up at one end after having had a sort of stainway built out? side to at least spare the clergy and the faithful the discomfort of climbing to this room through a ladder in the stable proper. Mr. Lejamtel said the first mass during which the prelate, seeking shelter from the sun, already fairly high, was much surprised to find himself, twenty feet from the stable, in a building erected to saw logs and which could have been prepared in less than an hour for the pur- BRAS D'OR WIN-DOR CO. LTD. WINDOWS & DOOR SYSTEMS m • PATIO DOORS (Robert 2000) • VINYL SIDING . STORM DOORS . CUSTOM SIZES 'QUALITY & PRICE OUR EDGE • CUSTOMER SERVICE OUR PLEDGE" ~ INSTALLATION AVAILABLE ~ • CASEMENTS (HVY. 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