Canada’s Oldest Crypt, Underneath Notre-Dame Basilica

Canada’s Oldest Crypt, Underneath Notre-Dame Basilica

Photo: Gilbert Bochenek

It’s a subterranean treasure for those who are intrigued by ancient burial grounds and/or religious traditions and it dates back to 1652 when all that existed of Quebec City were a few buildings down by the water and the majestic Cathedral which stood above them all.

It is a religious ritual that dates back to the 1500’s in Europe to have clergy or other religious leaders buried under a church and when the Jesuits moved into what was at the time known as Kanada, so named by the Iroquois and Jacques Cartier, the tradition was carried on as usual. Of the tombs found under Notre- Dame only the first four Catholic Bishops of Kanada, sometimes referred to as “La Nouvelle France”, are not buried there. Two are inhumed elsewhere in Québec and the other two were returned to France.

The most famous religious personality found deep under the church is His Eminence Monseigneur François de Laval who played an important role in establishing the city and territory of Kébec. There are anywhere from 800 to a 1000 religious clergy who have been laid to rest in the catacombs of the Cathedral, the latest being Father Roch Simard as recently as 2013.

Tourists or anyone wanting to visit the crypt can do so by reserving a tour which only costs $5.00 by calling 418-694-0665 or sending an e-mail to  One can also consult the website “”, where there is a video showing the basics of the tour titled “entréz dans la Crypte”. The video and info on the site is only in French, but tours are available in English. The Cathedral itself is celebrating its 350 years as a religious centre for the Catholic faith in 2014, having been established as a Parish in 1664.

See the video below.

……………………………………………….. Staff Writer

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  1. reinedesepices
    reinedesepices 29 March, 2014, 18:05

    Really cool! I can’t believe I hadn’t heard about this before, even after living here for over ten years! And as a homeschooling family, this will be a great outing.

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