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Pierre Elliott Trudeau:

Basilica again at hub of history
The Globe and Mail
Tuesday, October 3, 2000

MONTREAL -- Beginning at 11 a.m., Montreal's resplendent Notre Dame Basilica will resound once again with a stirring adieu to one of the country's most mythical figures.

Following in the footsteps of history, pallbearers will accompany Pierre Trudeau's casket down the central aisle of the magnificent sanctuary for a final farewell. It will not be the first time the soaring stone landmark will bear witness to history.

George Etienne Cartier, a father of Confederation, was remembered at his funeral there a mere six years after Canada became a country. Only four months ago, hockey icon Maurice Richard was eulogized in a tearful ceremony that brought mourners to their feet.

The church is so dominant in Montreal, both physically and symbolically, that the question wasn't whether Mr. Trudeau's funeral should be held there, but how it could be held anywhere else.

"The history of the Notre Dame parish is the history of Montreal," said Monique Lanthier, curator of the basilica's collections. The parish was founded in 1657, when Montreal was only 15 years old.

Mr. Trudeau's surviving sons, Sacha and Justin, have requested a solemn event that is both formally religious yet personal enough to reflect their father. The ceremony will include a traditional mass as well as Gregorian chants and personal eulogies from Justin, the eldest son, and two of Mr. Trudeau's closest friends -- Jacques Hébert will deliver a eulogy in French, and Roy Heenan, Mr. Trudeau's law partner, will speak in English.

And it promises to bring mourners to their feet, too, because the ceremony is scheduled to end on a note that would have made Mr. Trudeau proud -- a rendition of O Canada on the church's 7,000-pipe organ.

Monseigneur Yvon Bigras, Notre Dame's parish priest, said yesterday that Mr. Trudeau's sons wanted to personalize the ceremony with appropriate texts and music. "They know their father's taste," he said.

"But what's also important is that it be profoundly religious."

Prime Minister Jean Chrétien will begin the ceremony by reading a passage from the Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians. Then Sacha, Mr. Trudeau's younger son, will read from the prophet Daniel.

The Roman Catholic archbishop of Montreal, Jean-Claude Cardinal Turcotte, will conduct the mass. As he ends it, he will say a "final adieu to our brother Pierre Elliott Trudeau" and give him over to God "with respect and affection."

The mass will be followed by the personal tributes of Justin, Mr. Hébert and Mr. Heenan.

Finally, soprano Nadia Blanchet will sing Ave Maria and a piper will play a lament as the coffin leaves the church.

It will mark the second time in less than two years that the two Trudeau sons and their mother, Margaret, will bury a family member. In November, 1998, the youngest son, Michel, was remembered in a private ceremony at the St. Viateur Church in Outremont.

Justin Trudeau to give eulogy

Here are some elements of the service for Pierre Trudeau:

Prime Minister Jean Chrétien will read from Corinthians.

Sacha Trudeau will read from the prophet Daniel.

Rev. Jean-Guy Dubuc will deliver the homily.

Jean-Claude Cardinal Turcotte, Archbishop of Montreal, will say mass.

Singing of Gregorian chant Lux Aeterna.

Eulogies by Jacques Hébert, Roy Heenan, Justin Trudeau.

Final adieu.

O Canada.

Soprano Nadia Blanchet will sing Ave Maria and a piper will play a lament as the coffin leaves the church.

Today's arrangements

10:50 a.m. -- Prime Minister arrives at Notre Dame Basilica
10:55 a.m. -- Governor-General arrives
11 a.m. -- Funeral procession arrives (from City Hall); coffin is carried into Basilica by RCMP pallbearers. Funeral mass begins.
Noon -- Coffin is carried out; general salute is played; guard of honour presents arms; 19-gun salute is fired; coffin is put in hearse; lament is played by piper; hearse departs for private burial rites at cemetary.

Inside Notre Dame Basilica

The two galleries on both sides of the Basilica will provide seating for up to 1,400 members of the public.

Up to 1,400 dignitaries will be seated on the pews which stretch across the floor of the Basilica.

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