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 on Friday. With her sons by her side, the My Heart Will Go On singer was joined by hundreds of mourners as they paid their final respects to the beloved husband, father and friend.
The Canadian singer wore a black dress and long lace veil as she greeted loved ones inside the church. The Dion family, headed by matriarch Thérèse Dion, rallied around the singer as they took their seats for the service, which is being conducted by Archbishop of Montreal Christian Lépine.
Celine arrives at her husband's funeral with her three sons
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, where the star spent much of the following day hugging and chatting with grieving fans paying their respects at the church.
Celine lays flowers on her husband's casket
Following a long battle with cancer, René died peacefully at home in Las Vegas on 14 January. 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.
The couple were married 21 years
"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."
As well as having to say goodbye to her husband of 21 years, Celine also 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 23 February, following a special celebration of René's life at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace on 3 February.