More than 21 years after she walked into Montreal’s Notre-Dame Basilica to say “I do” to the love of her life, René Angélil, Celine Dion walked the same path today to say goodbye. With her sons by her side, the Canadian singer was joined by hundreds of mourners as they paid their final respects to the beloved husband, father and friend.
Wearing a black dress and long lace veil, the 47-year-old singer continued to be the picture of strength as she greeted love ones inside the church. The Dion family, headed by matriarch Thérèse Dion, rallied around the singer as they walked up the aisle to Celine's ballad "Trois Heures Vingt" and took their seats for the service, conducted by Archbishop of Montreal Christian Lépine.
Protecting his wife until the very end, René saved Celine the burden of planning his funeral by deciding on all the details himself, choosing as the location the very place where he and "the great love of his life" wed in 1994. Celine and her children boarded a private jet from Las Vegas to Montreal on Wednesday (Jan. 20), where the star spent much of the following day hugging and chatting with grieving fans paying their respects at the church.
Following a long battle with cancer, René died peacefully at home in Las Vegas on Jan. 14. Even though he was suffering greatly, a source close to the family told People that his passing came as a shock. “We knew what he was up against, but he had good days and bad days. It was expected, but it wasn't expected. Was he at death's door? No."
"He will be remembered as a gentle man, generous and kind, an unprecedented visionary, a modern Pygmalion, a Renaissance man," Celine said in a statement on Facebook following his passing. "All who had the privilege of knowing him and of working closely with him, whether personally or professionally, salute a leader and a man of great intelligence and wisdom."
It's been a tremendously traumatic time for Celine. She lost her brother Daniel, 59, to throat, brain and tongue cancer just two days after René died. He passed away on Montreal surrounded by his family.
Celine has confirmed that she will resume her Las Vegas performances on Feb. 23, following a special celebration of René's life at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace on Feb. 3.