Rosary Bowl in Ottawa Aug. 22 rekindles the spirit of 1947

Marian Congress at Lansdowne Park in Ottawa in 1947. (CCN - Photo courtesy of Archdiocese of Toronto Archives)

By Deborah Gyopang, Canadian Catholic News

[OTTAWA – CCN] – Seventy-two years after the 1947 Marian Congress in Ottawa, pilgrims will look to re-capture the spirit on the very same site of that historic event with the inaugural Lansdowne Rosary Bowl.

On the feast of the Queenship of Mary Aug. 22, pilgrims will gather at TD Place, the home of the Ottawa Redblacks football team. Back in 1947, it was known as Lansdowne Park, site of the Marian Congress that drew hundreds of thousands to Ottawa for what was then the largest religious gathering of its time in Canada. It was also where Canada was first consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, an act that Canada’s Catholic bishops repeated at Notre Dame Cathedral in September 2017.

Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa and Bishop Pierre-Olivier Tremblay of Trois-Rivières, rector of Canada’s national Marian Shrine at Notre-Dame-du-Cap in his diocese, will both deliver short addresses at 2 p.m. Aug. 22, then the Queenship of Mary sisters and the Corpus Christi Catholic School Rosary Club will lead the praying of the Rosary.

“Our people often tell me of their joy in proclaiming their faith publicly as we do with the Way of the Cross on Good Friday and as we did with the Marian procession in 2017,” Prendergast said. “They are also pleased when the archbishop accompanies them, so it’s a double blessing to be part of this at Lansdowne Park, where the Marian Congress took place seventy-two years ago.

“The fact that TD Place officials are positive about it encourages the Catholic community so I’d like to support that openness on their part,” he said. “My hope is that it will show there is still interest among Catholics and perhaps others to honour Our Blessed Mother and interest, too, in praying the Rosary for peace in our world — which is so needed,” the archbishop said.

Rosary Bowl organizers Dennis and Angelina Girard, co-founders of the Marian Devotional Movement, have included the event as part of a four-day pilgrimage beginning in Ottawa Aug. 21, then on to Notre-Dame-du-Cap on Aug. 23-24. Dennis Girard said they decided to call the event the Rosary Bowl after a similarly-named annual event in Portland, Ore., which has been going since 2007.

But the Girards discovered that the Venerable Fr. Patrick Peyton — famous for his maxim “The family that prays together stays together” — had a booth at the 1947 Congress and held the first ever Rosary Bowl in Canada in 1948 in London, Ont. (Fr. Peyton also promoted his Family Rosary Crusade in the Catholic dioceses of Saskatchewan in September and October of 1948.)

This year marks the 325th anniversary of the establishment of an altar to the Confraternity of the Most Holy Rosary at Cap-de-la-Madeleine, at the original church on the site of the Marian Shrine. The Confraternity is an ancient prayer movement the Holy See entrusted to the Dominicans 500 years ago.

The Girards have been working with Tremblay and the Shrine to revive the Confraternity of the Most Holy Rosary.

In 1867, Fr. Luc Desilets discovered a small pig chewing on a rosary inside the old shrine at Cap-de-la-Madeleine. He was able to retrieve the beads and turned and saw the Confraternity altar, long in disuse. He vowed to enrol as many people as possible. He also revived the ancient practice of blessing roses and encouraging parishioners to pray with them, asking Our Lady for favours. They kept a record of the healings and favours granted.

The little church built in the 1600s became too small for the thousands Desilets enrolled in the Confraternity. Plans were made for a new church and in the summer of 1878 the stones were ready on the other side of the St. Lawrence, waiting for the river to freeze over so they could be carted across.

The winter of 1879, however, the St. Lawrence never froze. Desilets and parishioners prayed the rosary until an ice bridge, a rosary of ice floes, began to form and allowed the locals to cart the stones over.

The Girards’ goal is to hold Rosary Bowls annually. They also envision replicating the procession of the pilgrim statue, a replica of the miraculous statue at Notre-Dame-du-Cap, along the Rideau canal to Lansdowne Park.

More information on the Rosary Bowl and the pilgrimage to Notre-Dame-du-Cap is available at



Sept. 26, 1948 article about the Family Rosary Crusade rally held at Mount Carmel shrine in Saskatchewan.