QUEBEC Montreal 1910 International Eucharist Congress / Congrès Eucharistique Internationale de Montreal Medal 45mm x 68mm silver medal 44.78 grams by Caron Frères
One of the interesting things about medal collecting apart from the medal itself is to examine the contemporary reports of the event. What can come across as an insignificant medal can be telling the story of a most amazing part of our social history, and often the only tangible reminder of the event is the medal. The 21st Eucharist Congress was written up by the Montreal Gazette (12 September 1910 p14) as the “Greatest religious spectacle the continent has ever witnessed”. Nearly 40 to 50 thousand men participated in the procession marching six to ten abreast, witnessed by nearly a half million onlookers at Fletcher’s Field where the ceremonies closed. When the first of the group was arriving at their destination there were still marchers leaving Notre Dame Cathedral three miles away. There were participants from North and South America as well as Europe. The parade was led by the Regiment of Zouaves, and the St. Jean Baptiste cadets from Quebec, then came the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the C.M.B.A. and the Société des Artisans. The religious contingent included Chinese Catholics, as well as Lithuanian, Polish, Syrian, First Nations and others Catholic groups. There were more than 125 bishops, archbishops, and other high dignitaries of the Church. There was a selection of politicians headed by Sir Wilfrid Laurier, and the future Quebec Lieutenant Governor Sir Lomer Gouin.
Obverse: the Virgin Mary in foreground with Montreal and the Notre-Dame cathedral and Marché Bonsecours in the background, XXI US / CONGRESSUS EUCHARISTICUS / INTERNATIONALIS / MONTREAL / 1910. CARON FRERES MONTREAL / REGISTERED
Reverse: Jesus and the Apostles, PANEM NOSTRUM QUOTIDIANUM (Trans: Our Daily Bread)
The first International Eucharistic Congress owed its inspiration to Bishop Gaston de Ségur, and was held at Lille, France, on June 21, 1881. The initial inspiration behind the idea came from the laywoman Marie-Marthe-Baptistine Tamisier (1834–1910) who spent a decade lobbying clergy. The sixth congress met in Paris in 1888, and the great memorial Church of the Sacred Heart on Montmartre was the center of the proceedings. Antwerp hosted the next congress in 1890, at which an immense altar of repose was erected in the Place de Meir, and an estimated 150,000 persons gathered around it when Cardinal Goossens, Archbishop of Mechelen, gave the solemn benediction. Bishop Doutreloux of Liège was then president of the Permanent Committee for the Organization of Eucharistic Congresses, the body which has charge of the details of these meetings. Of special importance also was the eighth congress, held in Jerusalem in 1893, as it was the first congress held outside Europe. The Montreal 21st International Eucharist Congress (Sept 7-11, 1910) was the first held in the Western Hemisphere. The most recently held was 2021 in Budapest, Hungary during Covid.