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The ultimate farewell

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

MONTREAL – A national funeral to honor Mr. Jean Béliveau was held at Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral on Wednesday afternoon.

Family members, friends, dignitaries and members of the Montreal Canadiens organization filled the basilica’s seats to bid the legendary Habs captain a final farewell. The ceremony was presided over by Monsignor Christian Lépine, the Archbishop of Montreal.

Select readings from the Liturgy were preceded by several poignant eulogies. One by one, former teammates Dickie Moore, Yvan Cournoyer, Ken Dryden and Serge Savard spoke eloquently about the man they respected and admired. Then, Canadiens owner, president and CEO, Geoff Molson, stood before those in attendance to explain just how significant an impact Mr. Béliveau had on his life and the life of the Molson family.

Dignitaries in attendance included political figures from the municipal, provincial and federal levels. Former Quebec premiers Lucien Bouchard, Jean Charest and Bernard Landry were on site, as were former prime ministers Jean Chrétien and Brian Mulroney.

Canadiens players were also in attendance, as was the entire coaching staff. A plethora of former Habs also turned out to celebrate Mr. Béliveau’s life, including Guy Lafleur.

Former team presidents Ronald Corey and Pierre Boivin also paid their respects to the Béliveau family on Wednesday, as did NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly.

The ceremony, which lasted approximately two hours, concluded in dramatic fashion as Mr. Béliveau’s coffin, draped in a Canadiens flag, was slowly taken out of the cathedral while the choir sang Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s “Messiah”.

Vincent Cauchy is a writer for canadiens. Translated by Matt Cudzinowski.

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