In the steps of Marguerite…

Enter a building with large, richly coloured stained glass windows and tread the footsteps of Marguerite by means of historical artifacts, costumes and archival documents. Experience her life challenges: widowhood, poverty and the fires that marked her path. Let yourself feel the wonder of her unshakeable faith in God and his Divine Providence will inspire you.

Her work endures over two hundred years later, through her spiritual daughters, whose work can be seen at locations throughout Canada and the United States.

Tread in the steps of Marguerite back to the time in New France, a time when the saint was firmly planted here, sowing the seeds of compassion, faith and love. The fruits of her labour continue to multiply today.


Discover the work of Marguerite d’Youville’s daughters

Did you know that in the mid-19th century Varennes was a resort called La Saline? And that two salt springs came out near the resort facilities? That there was a hotel, which became a hospice run by the Grey Nuns, and is today known as Centre d’hébergement de Lajemmerais?

Come and learn more about those days by visiting the exhibit, Le Foyer Lajemmerais d’hier à aujourd’hui (Le Foyer Lejemmerais, yesterday to today), presented at the Saint Marguerite d’Youville Sanctuary in Varennes, from June 18 to October 2. Discover moments in history through photographs and stories. You’ll find out about the important role played by the Grey Nuns in Varennes, the birthplace of their founder, Saint Marguerite d’Youville.

“We become accustomed to our environment, to endless buildings. But some, like the ancient hospice in Varennes, harken back to a defining time. It’s important to rediscover these pages of history, to take them and connect them to Marguerite d’Youville,” said Sister Nicole Fournier, SGM, Congregational Assistant and Secretary with the Grey Nuns of Montreal.

“We invite residents of Varennes and Montérégie, and from far and wide, to come and visit the Sanctuary of Saint Marguerite d’Youville. Come and let the faith, courage and determination of Marguerite and her daughters touch you. These were extraordinary women who helped build our communities,” said Louise Girard, organizer of the temporary exhibit.


In the imposing basilica, erected in 1887, Roman and Byzantine architecture combine to create a magnificent building. The space is adorned with numerous paintings, frescoes, windows, statues and religious objects, some of which have been preserved since the founding of the parish of Varennes in 1692.

Of particular note are the following:

Frescoes and paintings by

François Beaucourt, the first Canadian painter to study in Europe

Guido Nincheri, the Italian-Canadian painter nicknamed the Michelangelo of Montreal


The basilica’s facade is decorated with statues of Saint Anne, Saint Peter and Saint Paul, sculpted by Philippe Hébert (around 1886).

The statue of Marguerite d’Youville, a gift from the Grey Nuns of Montreal, was kept at the Crèche d’Youville in Montreal until 1971. It replaced the one that had been installed along the river in 1942.

Religious objects and other ancient pieces:

A bell donated by the Grey Nuns, which came from the old Hôpital Charron de Montreal (1693), an institution that Marguerite d’Youville took on and managed

A miraculous painting of Saint Anne (1730)

A sculpted wooden and gilt paschal candle (around 1788)

A hammered silver sanctuary lamp by Robert Cruickshawk (1803)

Sculpted wooden and gilt baptismal fonts, in the classic Napoleon III style (around 1885)

A sculpted and painted wooden pulpit (1888)

Imported Italian chandeliers (1889)

Just steps from the basilica, take a look at the following:

Two 19th-century votive chapels designated as “cultural property,” and a wooden Calvary cross recognized as a “historical monument”.