Movable Heritage Assets

The collection of movable heritage property of the Priests of Saint Sulpice of Montréal comprises more than 2,500 objects, including 1,000 works of art, from the Middle Ages to the present day, that testify to the importance of fine arts, decorative arts, science and technology, and natural sciences in the lives and careers of the Sulpicians.

This extensive collection includes furniture, silverware, paintings and sculptures, coins, and scientific and technological instruments that served civil and religious needs over time.

Part of the inventory of the movable property collection is published in the Répertoire du patrimoine culturel du Québec. It presents and documents key pieces of the Sulpician collection, thanks to the research work carried out in 2014 with the collaboration of two art historians, Joanne Chagnon and Pierre-Olivier Ouellet, and supported by a joint grant from the City of Montréal and the Ministère de la Culture et des Communications du Québec.

Atelier de Charles Le Brun, La Descente du Saint Esprit, vers 1657, huile sur toile, 111,9 x 73,5 cm, PSSM.

Workshop of Charles Le Brun, The Descent of the Holy Spirit, ca. 1657, oil on canvas, 111.9 x 73.5 cm, PSSM. Photo: David Strong, UCSS.

The Descent of the Holy Spirit is a reproduction of a composition commissioned from Charles Le Brun, the first painter to King Louis XIV, by M. Jean-Jacques Olier in 1654 to decorate the chapel of the seminary of Saint-Sulpice in Paris. Smaller in size than the original, but with its particular shape, the painting in the possession of the Sulpicians of Montréal is, in all likelihood, a studio replica.

Guillaume III Loir, Vierge à l’Enfant, 1731-1732, argent massif et bois, 112,3 x 52 x 25,8 cm, PSSM.

William III Loir, Virgin and Child, 1731-1732, solid silver and wood, 112.3 x 52 x 25.8 cm, PSSM. Photo: Christine Guest, Montréal Museum of Fine Arts.

This solid silver Virgin and Child, more than one meter high, comes from the workshop of the Parisian silversmith Guillaume III Loir. It was acquired to decorate the first church of the Sulpician mission of Lac-des-Deux-Montagnes (now Oka), built in 1732. The sumptuous statue of exceptional aesthetic quality is one of the jewels in the collection.

livres rares

«Livres de la bibliothèque de l’Institut de formation théologique de Montréal». Prêtres de Saint-Sulpice de Montréal

Rare books

The Priests of Saint Sulpice of Montréal also have an important collection of old and rare books, which includes books that constituted one of the first private libraries under the French regime: that of the Seminary of Saint Sulpice. Other libraries were later established in most of the buildings housing the activities of the Sulpicians: the Grand Séminaire de Montréal, the Collège de Montréal, the Collège André-Grasset, the Collège Jean-Jacques-Olier in Verdun, the Séminaire de Philosophie de Montréal and the Pontifical Canadian College in Rome, not to mention other private collections of Sulpician priests. Finally, there is a “Saint-Sulpice collection” at the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, which comes from the transfer of the Saint-Sulpice Library on Saint-Denis Street in Montréal to the Québec government in 1941.

The works in these libraries were used for teaching and for the enrichment of knowledge on various subjects, allowing the Sulpicians to fulfill their mission as educators. These collections are an expression of scholarly culture. They provide information on the social and intellectual concerns of Québec’s elites, on the evolution of ideas in many fields between the 17th and 19th centuries, and on the value of the education that was being provided at the time.

The works are grouped under 10 categories ranging from the beginning of the colony in Montréal (1657) to the present day:

  • Arts
  • Computer science, information and general literature
  • History and Geography
  • Language
  • Literature
  • Philosophy and psychology
  • Religion
  • Social sciences
  • Science
  • Technology

The old and rare books owned by the Priests of Saint Sulpice of Montréal are for the most part kept in the library of the Institut de formation théologique de Montréal (IFTM).