Quebec History Marianopolis College

Date Published:

L’Encyclopédie de l’histoire du Québec / The Quebec History Encyclopedia


Cardinal Raymond Marie Rouleau




ROULEAU, RAYMOND MARIE (1866-1931) of the Dominican Order and cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church, was born at Isle Verte, Temiscouata, Quebec, 6 April, 1866. He received his classical education at the seminary at Rimouski. Entering the Dominican house at Saint Hyacinthe in the summer of 1886, he went to complete his training at Corbara in Corsica, where he professed his final vows in August 1891, and was ordained priest 31 July, 1892. In August 1894, he returned to Canada where, at Saint Hyacinthe and at Ottawa, he held the most important posts in his order, even to that of Provincial, in 1919. A man of great learning and of lofty principles, he taught and ruled with rare wisdom. His work as preacher and apostle was equally famous at home and abroad. During more than thirty years, from 1894 to 1923, from the seclusion of his friar's cell he thus carried on a noble ministry of intellectual direction and apostolic zeal.


Rouleau was chosen bishop of Valleyfield, 9 March, 1923, and on the following twenty-second of May, he was consecrated in his cathedral by the apostolic delegate, Mgr Pietro di Maria. Three years later, on 9 July, 1926, he was promoted to the archepiscopal see of Quebec, where he took possession on 8 November of the same year. Hardly a year had elapsed, when on 19 December, 1927, Pope Pius XI created him cardinal with the title   of Saint Pierre in Montorio. Rouleau died at Quebec, on 31 May, 1931, at the age of sixty-five years.


He was a man of great stature, taller than the ordinary, having a well-built figure, with a regular countenance whose features, vigorous yet kindly, were enlivened by his piercing glance and by the affability of his smile. Always friendly to everyone, Rouleau, while at Ottawa, already presented a noble and handsome appearance in his white Dominican cloak. Though becoming bishop of Valleyfield then archbishop and cardinal at Quebec yet he still retained the habit of the friars of his order. Now, however, he had to add the violet or purple insignia of his rank, which, without changing him, could only give more exterior dignity and majesty to his bearing and to his person.


After thirty-seven years of Dominican life, dedicated especially to teaching, Rouleau, though more learned and more scholarly than the majority, and having become bishop, archbishop and cardinal, still remained above all a man of study and of intellectual pursuits. This was obvious, to a certain degree, it would seem, in his manner of living and in his conduct. His deportment like his conversation was that of a master. He had not sought honours, yet he bore cheerfully the burden of greatness. But it pleased him rather to occupy himself on the higher planes of thought. He was never more himself (it has been rightly said) than when he was delivering some important address before his clergy or the staff of the university, or again when he was writing one of his pastoral letters, so rich in substance and so lucid in expression; and he wrote a very great number of such letters. That is how Rouleau remained above all a man of doctrine and a preacher in the better sense of the term, although he was exceptionally skilful in those matters of administration and business which his work as chief minister necessitated. His speeches and his writings constantly showed his great skill, his vast learning and his superior knowledge of men and things. From the first, he was a scholar, he was Maitre en Saint Thomas, whose intellectual worth, quite as much as his fine moral qualities, assured his authority and strengthened his influence. That is why, more than for any other reason, we can assert that Rouleau has been so naturally such a great leader in the Church of God.


At the same time, it must be acknowledged, in addition, that the cardinal proved himself, constantly and in every way, a father with a compassionate soul overflowing with gentleness. In the various positions which he occupied among the Dominicans, and later at the head of the dioceses which he directed, he certainly knew how to govern without partiality, and with firmness as well as with wisdom and prudence. But in equal measure, he always exercised his authority with the most delicate condescensions [sic] and the kindest consideration towards those under his jurisdiction. He was not among those who wound and offend others. He possessed great patience and he could foresee results. Is not that, in any government, and especially that of a spiritual nature, the art of arts? The task of those who have charge of directing others is particularly difficult and very arduous. It is not sufficient to be a leader who commands and gives orders. It is also necessary to be a father who knows how to have these commands and orders accepted and liked. As a father, Rouleau was admirable. Nemo Tam Pater! His kindness of heart could always temper what was necessarily a little severe or strict in the conduct of authority. Because of that, not only was he obeyed but he was obeyed lovingly.


[L. M. Lejeune, Dictionnaire Général du Canada, 2 vols, Ottawa, 1931; private information; personal knowledge. Translated from the French by A.M.D.]


Source: abbé Élie-J. AUCLAIR, in Charles G. D. ROBERTS and Arthur L. TUNNELL, A Standard Dictionary of Canadian Biography. The Canadian Who Was Who, Vol. 1, Toronto, Trans Canada Press, 1934, pp. 448-449.



© 2004 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College