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The Congrégation de Notre Dame is a religious community for women founded in 1658 in the colony of New France, now part of Canada.

The Congrégation Notre-Dame was a previously well funded women’s religious order created in France by Pierre Fourier and Alix Le Clerc; it was committed to education through the organization of the Catholic Church.

Bourgeoys joined the externe Congregation following a great spiritual experience in 1640 and a long search for a place within the more conventional contemplative women’s religious communities.

As Bourgeoys helped in the Congregation of Notre Dame, s e had a vision of a new kind of religious community for women.

This new order took Mary, the mother of Jesus, as their role model, considering her to be an actor in the Bible together with Jesus and his apostles.

Bourgeoys wanted the women of her new order to be active and among those who needed their help, and not cloistered in a convent waiting for the needy to come to them.

This vision, together with her experience in teaching and working in the Congregation of Notre Dame in Troyes, France and an invitation by Paul de Chomedey de Maisonneuve, inspired Bourgeoys to head to New France.There in 1657 she established an educative/proselytizing order for women: the Congregation of Notre Dame.The Congregation received civil recognition in 1671 from King Louis XIV and finally was granted official status by the Catholic Church in 1698: some 40 years after its creation and only two years before the death of Marguerite Bourgeoys.The Convent was near the corner of Notre-Dame and Saint Paul Street, in what is now called Old Montreal.As revealed by its architectural plans, the early convent was a private space, secluded from the public life of Montreal.The convent was placed deeply within its own terrain, and its separation from public life was protected by the Hôtel Dieu and the walls that surrounded it.

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