Montreal – Saint-Leon-de-Westmount Church

4311 de Maisonneuve West

The Saint-Léon-de-Westmount church must certainly be among the most beautiful churches in Montreal. Its history is inclusive and its style is remarkable.

In the 19th century, the Westmount sector was rural and attracted senior leaders, merchants and business people wishing to get away from urban density. The grounds are larger and scattered across the territory. To attend Catholic religious services, residents must travel to neighboring communities.

When the neighborhoods of Montreal were redefined with the urban development linked to maritime and rail transport at the beginning of the 20th century, the French and English Catholic communities of Westmount united to ask for a church in their sector. It is with the community of the Gray Nuns that the favorable ground for the erection of the church was provided.. We are then in 1900-1901. Under the plans of the architect Georges Alphonse Monette, the church was completed in 1903. It was not the first church nor the last of the architect who has several religious sites in his portfolio. Masses at the Church of Saint-Léon were presented in both languages ​​and sometimes even bilingual.

Very quickly the church becomes too small. In 1920, an expansion was planned and it was once again Georges Alphonse Monette who took charge of the plans. The facade is moved and a narthex is added with three large access doors of identical size. It is in-depth that we enlarge the church which was originally only a third of its current form.

Still, on the front, notice the checkerboard pattern that is repeated at the very top at the level of the upper niche. In the original version, a central bell tower was present. Now a square tower was erected to the right of the main entrance, and again a checkerboard style is repeated. Also, note the serrated dentil all around the top of the tower and church.

A few years later, in 1926, the English-speaking community requested its place of worship. Part of the land, back to Saint-Léon, facing Sherbrooke Street, was granted for the construction of the Ascension of Our Lord church.

If you like the exterior of Saint-Leon, you will be stunned with the inside. I don’t want to go too fast so start by noticing the solid carved wooden doors and enter this “museum” church of the work of Guido Nincheri. For 30 years, he orchestrated the restoration of the interior of the church organized by the parish priest, Father Oscar Pierre Gauthier.

Here, Nincheri not only coordinated the work, he executed works including frescoes, stained glass, and designs for mosaic, bronze and marble, all from 1928 to 1957. Nincheri was sometimes supported by his Italian compatriots for the realization of certain works.

The beauty is such that we can almost consider it as a museum of the artist Nincheri.

Look for the lions that return here and there in the decor of the church. If you have the chance, take a tour with an enthusiast of the place who will point you to the incredible details of the work, certain interpretations and intractable fresco techniques.

Saint-Léon-de-Westmount Church is a masterpiece to see at the corner of Maisonneuve Street and Clark.

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