The Bahá’í Shrine in Canada
Even though ‘Abdu’l-Bahá stayed in other homes in Europe and America, the Maxwell home in Montreal is the only place officially designated a “Shrine.” Shoghi Effendi, in a June 1953 letter to the Canadian National Spiritual Assembly, stated that the Maxwell home in Montreal “should be viewed in the nature of a national Shrine, because of its association with the beloved Master, during His visit to Montreal.”1 ‘Abdu’l-Bahá referred to the Maxwell house as His home. It was a great honour and privilege conferred upon Canada and the city of Montreal.
Amatu’l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Khánum explained the importance of this Shrine in these words: “Things arise in historic perspective as time goes by. This is the only private home in Canada where ‘Abdu’l-Bahá stayed. After His visit, it was always considered blessed by having been used by Him. For future generations, it will eventually grow in importance and sacredness, because He, the Centre of the Covenant, the Greatest Mystery of God, stayed here.”2
The Montreal Bahá’í Shrine is, therefore, a place of pilgrimage. Not only do the upper floor and the room of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá constitute the Shrine, but the whole building is an historic monument. It is located in a city that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá hopes in the future “will become so stirred, that the melody of the Kingdom may travel to all parts of the world from that Dominion and the breaths of the Holy Spirit may spread from that centre to the East and the West of America.”3
- Shoghi Effendi, Messages to Canada, 2nd ed. (Thornhill: Bahá’í Canada Publications, 1999), p. 179.
- From a letter from Amatu’l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Khánum to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Canada, 14 May 1953.
- ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of the Divine Plan (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1993), p. 95.