The Legend of the Black Horse
There is an ongoing legend in Quebec, Canada, that speaks of a black horse. Now, even though there are slight variations in the tales according to the region where they were told, the basis of the story stays the same. Now, these tales always tell of a devil disguised as a black horse who is forced by a priest or other religious man to build a church, a chapel or a cathedral with one condition: no one is allowed to remove the bridle. This legend has been told in Saint-Augustin, in Saint-Michel-de-Bellechasse, in Saint-Laurent, in Trois-Pistoles and in L’Islet, amongst other places across the province.
L’Islet: In this area, the legend was told around a campfire and was actually taken seriously around 1939. According to the legend, L’Islet did not have a church in May of 1768. Therefore, a priest started to make plans to build one. However, he needed a way to carry the necessary stones to the building site. One night, he heard a white, shining woman call him. She told him he would magically have a horse to help him out the following morning, waiting for him in front of his house. She explained that the horse could be put to work carrying the stone, but that no one was allowed to remove the bridle. The next morning, the priest found a magnificent black horse by his front door. When the construction workers showed up to build the church, the priest told them that he borrowed the horse for them, but explained the condition to them. One of the workers then harnessed the horse to a small carriage and put just the right amount of stone on it. The horse pulled the carriage as though it weighed nothing. So, for the second trip, the priest told the worker to add more. The second trip was loaded with twice as much stone, and the same thing happened: the horse pulled the carriage with ease. For the third time, three times the number of stones was added. So the workers built a larger carriage and the horse still pulled it as though it weighed nothing. But, one day, a worker mistakenly unbridled the horse and the animal ran off. The priest tried to stop it by doing a cross sign, but the horse ran towards a rock, split it with a sound like thunder, and flames appeared, carrying the devil back to his home – hell – and left an odor of sulfur behind him.
Trois-Pistoles: The legend of Trois-Pistoles is very similar to the one of L’Islet. It says, though, that between 1882 and 1887, the city’s fifth church was built by using the help of a tireless horse, who carried all the necessary stones to the construction site. The same condition applied, but one worker mistakenly removed the bridle and the devil immediately disappeared. There is still, to this day, one stone missing on top of one of the church’s walls.
Île d’Orléans: The Île d’Orleans’ construction site was close to an upward hillside, and the horses who worked for the workers had difficulty carrying the stone to the construction site. One day, a worker told the others that he would find a horse that could do the task by himself. He returned with a beautiful horse that he entrusted to the workers, but told them to never remove the bridle. After a full day of work, one worker took the horse to the river to drink and removed the bridle. The horse disappeared instantaneously. Desperate, the worker jumped in the river and changed into an eel. The church, to this day, is still missing one stone.
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