The monastery was the first hospital in North America, and is now a hotel for visitors looking for health retreats.
“The gardens are lovely. They’re growing tomatoes; there’s sage on the table, all these great symbols of health and wellness,” said Rita Rocheford, who is visiting a cousin in Quebec City from Minneapolis.
“It has expanded our experience of what it’s like to be in a hotel.”
Rocheford said she instantly felt at home at the monastery.
The newly-renovated multi-million dollar heritage building is now a place for physical and mental health rejuvenation.
“It just feels good to be here in terms of what the nuns have done for people for centuries,” said Rocheford.
It’s still a monastery – and home to eight cloistered nuns, but it also offers visitors health retreats and services, like personalized health therapists, yoga, meditation and massages.
“The mission of the Sisters has always been to care for the bodies and souls in New France. We still have this paper in our archives signed by Louis the XIII,” said Executive Director Isabelle Duchesneau.
In 1639, the Augustine Sisters came to Quebec with the mission to build the first hospital in North America.
The Sisters also managed about a dozen other hospitals in the province for more than 300 years.
“They really participated in the foundation of our health care system and the evolution of western medicine,” said Duchesneau.
However, the population of the Sisters has been declining, so they decided to entrust their building and over 40,000 artifacts to a non-profit organization that now runs the monastery.
There are 65 contemporary and authentic monastic bedrooms with single beds – no television, no excessive luxuries.
Breakfast is served in silence.
“It’s open for all cultures, all beliefs. We have no dogmatism at all,” Duchesneau added.
One visitor said staying in the monastery gave her some much needed peace.
“It just really feels like a refuge, really quiet and healing,” said Colleen Convey.