The statue of Mother Émilie Gamelin is a faithful representation of the nun. It stands in the pavilion of the Berri-UQAM Metro station, in the square that bears her name. The artist Raoul Hunter was inspired by the only known authentic portrait of Mother Gamelin, painted in 1843 by Vital Desrochers and conserved in the motherhouse of the Sisters of Providence community in Montréal. Hunter’s full-round sculpture presents her dressed in her community’s habit, in action, carrying on her arm a basket of foodstuffs destined to relieve the hunger and misery of the forgotten of her time. The accentuated movement of her step recalls her great energy and generosity. Mother Gamelin is not portrayed on an elevated base; rather, she is on the same level as passersby. Her smile testifies to her openness and sympathy. The statute symbolizes the contribution made by this exemplary and pious woman to Montréal in her time and today. This work commemorates the bicentenary of her birth (19 February 1800).
Born on 19 February 1800 in Tavernier, Mother Gamelin, as Émilie Tavernier was known, was the youngest in a family of 15 children. In 1823, she married Jean-Baptiste Gamelin, but he died four years later. A woman of action and compassion, in 1841, she founded Les Filles de la Charité, servantes des pauvres, which was later renamed Les Sœurs de la Providence. Mother Gamelin was particularly active in a number of refuges that she opened on Rue Sainte-Catherine between 1827 and 1843. In 1843, she instituted a soup kitchen, which, perpetuating her legacy, distributed millions of bowls of soup to the hungry until 1962. She died of cholera on 23 September 1851. On 23 December 1993, she was proclaimed Venerable by Pope John Paul II, who then beatified her on 7 October 2001.
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Categories: Attractions, Public art
Card created: 09/2015 (last modified: 09/2015)
GPS coordinates: 45°30'53.65"N, 73°33'34.5"W
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