Category Archives: Our Lady of Health church

The church of Our Lady of Health in CASTLE BRUCE – its history

DEC 2014 125

Fr. Vrignaud was  the builder of Castle Bruce church  in 1953

Fr. Vrignaud is the builder of Castle Bruce church anno 1953

In 1863 Bishop Rene Poirier , third Bishop of Roseau (1859-1878) made a pastoral visit along the windward coast of the island.  He described the chapel at Castle Bruce  as  “a hovel of a chapel covered with straw.

In February 1872 the Sons of Mary Immaculate, or Fathers of Chavagnes, arrived in Dominica.  Bishop Poirier  undertook, at the age of 72, the long and tiresome ride to the windward side of the island in order to install the french Fathers in their respective parishes.  Having first visited La Plaine and La Roche, he rode as far north as Castle Bruce, where he was received with manifestations of unbounded joy.  He asked the faithful to restore their chapel and build a presbytery if they wished to have regular Holy Mass in their hamlet; until those buildings were erected they would have to go to St. Sauveur for Holy Mass.

In  June 1880,  Bishop Michael Naughten , fourth Bishop of Roseau  (1880-1900), paid his first pastoral visit to the windward district. The church of Rosalie was nearing completion; the  one at St. Sauveur was almost finished.  Castle Bruce was also visited on this occasion.   “As His Lordship does not mention any chapel, in that important hamlet, it is supposed that the chapel which existed there twenty years before had fallen into decay and never been reconstructed” quote from THE ECCLESIASTICAL BULLETIN OF THE DIOCESE OF ROSEAU  (EBR)

Many years passed and nothing seems to have been done : in 1927  regret is expressed that a church has not been built in Castle Bruce and that the parishioners have to cross two, sometime swollen,  rivers to attend Holy Mass at San Sauveur.

Bishop James Moris,  sixth Bishop of Roseau (1922- 1957) , saw the great need for   a church in Castle Bruce and  obtained from  Mrs. Johnson, the owner of the Castle Bruce Estate, 4 acres of  land for this purpose.

In 1940  he mentioned that  the faithful of Castle Bruce, over 700 in number, are gathering native lumber, in order to build a large chapel .

It took however the arrival of  Fr. Pascal Vrignaud  FMI to make this longtime dream come true. On August 12, 1952  Bishop Antoon Demets C.Ss.R. , Coadjutor Bishop of Roseau (1946-1954), blessed the corner stone of the new church at Castle Bruce. It was a grand occasion .

By July 1954 the church was almost completed but some doors & windows and interior fixtures still had to be completed. The church “solid,  all in mason work of 20″ or 18″ thickness and surmounted by a graceful tower was the pride of the people of Castle Bruce.” ( The Dominica Chronicle July 24, 1954)

The stones for the church came from the ruins of the old sugar factory of the  Castle Bruce estate. Fr.  Pascal got permission from the owner to remove and use them  (source : Dr. Lennox Honychurch).

As Fr. Pascal’s health failed him and he left to recuperate in France it became the task of Fr. Hilaire Maupetit FMI to complete the church.

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The Castle Bruce church, without the bell tower, after the damage caused by the earthquake of November 29, 2007

The Castle Bruce church from 1953 till 2007

The Castle Bruce church from 1953 till 2007