More than 21 years after walking down the aisle of Montreal’s Notre-Dame Basilica to begin her life with husband René Angélil, Celine Dion solemnly walked the same aisle on Friday to bid him farewell. The "Power of Love" singer was accompanied by her three sons — Nelson, Eddy and René-Charles Angelil — as they made their way into the church. The family was joined by hundreds of mourners, who wished to pay their finals respects to the beloved husband, father and friend.
The 47-year-old was dressed in black, wearing a black veil over her face as she entered the church to greet loved ones. Celine's mother, Thérèse Dion, along with the rest of the Dion family rallied around her as they took their seats for the service . René's funeral service is being conducted by the Archbishop of Montreal Christian Lépine .
Inside, the mom-of-three placed flowers on top of her beloved's casket, while her eldest son René-Charles placed a pillow on it. At the altar he said, "Dad, I promise you here that we are all going to live up to your standards." He then embraced his mother.
Celine placed flowers on her husband's casket
Programs lined the seats of the basilica. The program read, "According to his wishes, all of Céline's songs were chosen by René. Those include: "Trois Heures 20," "L'Amour Existe Encore" and "All the Way."
A letter from the director of Celine's Las Vegas, Stéphane Laporte, penned a moving letter on the program. She wrote, "René doesn’t demand respect. He does better than that, he offers it. Because the most respected man of show business is the one who respects others the most. His genius is to think of everything, to never forget anyone."
The late music executive protected his wife up until the very end by saving her the burden of planning his funeral. Instead, René made all the arrangements himself, including choosing the location, which is where he and "the great love of his life" wed back in 1994.
On Wednesday, Celine and her children boarded a private jet from Las Vegas to Montreal, where the veil-clad star spent much of the following day hugging and chatting with grieving fans who were paying their respects at the church.
René passed away peacefully at home in Las Vegas on January 14 after losing his long battle to cancer. Even though he was suffering greatly, a source close to the family told People magazine 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 difficult time for Celine and her family. The Grammy-winning artist lost her brother to cancer just a few days after her husband died. Daniel Dion, 59, passed away in Montreal surrounded by his family.
Celine has already confirmed that she will resume her Las Vegas performances on February 23, following a special celebration of René's life at The Colosseum on February 3.