Monday, September 25, 2006

The Cathedral of St. Michael, Toronto

We had a few spare hours in the afternoon, so while some of the guys went to the CN tower (been there, done that), I took the subway to Dundas St. from where it's a short walk to the quiet neighborhood where the Cathedral of the Archdiocese is located. It's a magnificent structure, 14th century English gothic in style (without the transepts though, so it's not really cruciform).

The entire set of photos is at my Flickr page.

At the end of the right nave was a beautiful atlar where the Blessed Sacrament was exposed (this used to be the high altar. It was moved to the side nave after Vatican II). Maybe half a dozen folks were scattered through the pews in adoration. (With the Sacrament exposed, I didn't feel comfortable taking a photo.)

One of the most interesting things was a side altar with a Shrine to the Mother of God with the most gorgeous wood-carved statue of the Blessed Mother, against a beautifully painted fresco. Each of the corners there is an angel holding a model of the church of a shrine associated with a Marian apparition: Czestohowa, Guadalupe, Lourdes and Fatima. Below is a detail of the one showing Lourdes.



Above the altar in the sanctuary area I noticed this Cardinal's galero hanging. According to one of the Paulists here, it belongs to Gerald Emmet Cardinal Carter, the most recent Archbishop of Toronto. :: UPDATE :: From Kim in the comments below:
Actually, I'm quite sure the galero suspended from the ceiling belonged to James Cardinal McGuigan, who was our archbishop from 1934-1971. It was hanging there well before Cardinal Carter died. As you may know, it sometimes used to be humorously asserted that the galero's owner would be stuck in Purgatory until the rope holding it up turned to dust. Well, whoever hung up Cardinal McGuigan's hat seems to have made use of a steel cable! Hoo boy, guess they didn't like him? :)




To the left of the altar on a pillar was a decree in Latin from Pope John Paul II, raising Archbishop Aloyisius Ambrosic (the current ordinary) to the College of Cardinals (if I understood the Latin correctly).

From the Cathedral I walked a block down to the Methodist Church, the headquarters (?) of the United Church of Christ Canada. It's in a park, and there were a couple of stone benches where several old men were gatherd playing and watching chess. Some homeless folks were sleeping on the church steps. The building itself was locked. However, the entire time I was in the neighborhood, the carillons of this church were ringing forth a joyous melody.

6 comments:

assiniboine said...

Yes, St Michael's is terrific isn't it. They have a men's and boys' choir which is the equal of any in the Anglican world and which broadcasts at Christmas a la Kings College Cambridge.

A pity you weren't able to photograph the high altar.

The United Church of Christ has no presence in Canada.

Gashwin said...

Mea culpa, yet again!

assiniboine said...

Former high altar, that is. I must say, though, you really are doing the rounds!

If you got as far as Metropolitan United (Church of Canada, that is), though, you were just a stone's throw from St James's Anglican Cathedral: the three, St Michael's, Metropolitan and St James's make a rather splendid trio, all in somewhat the same style; all on more or less the same rather modest scale compared with that of European and American metropolitan churches, of course; but cumulatively a rather rather nice witness immediately adjacent to the financial hub of the country.

assiniboine said...

(Also only a short distance from what used to be the church with my favourite patronal name: St James Bond United Church. Well, originally St James Presbyterian and Bond Street Congregational churches, but never mind. Alas, alas, the congregation pulled up stakes and replanted themselves in the then-newly developing northern suburbs in the '50s.)

assiniboine said...

"14th century English gothic in style (without the transepts though, so it's not really cruciform)."

No, but it is nevertheless Decorated English Gothic. You'll note that there's no triforium either -- in order to avoid the cost of aisle roofs. According to "Hallowed Walls," my guide to the church architecture of Upper Canada (ie pre-Confederation Ontario) the RC Church of the time regarded Decorated Gothic as "too English" and there was some controversy over whether this style was appropriate for an Irish constituency. However, as with the Masseys and Metropolitan Methodist and the Eatons with Eaton Methodist, money talks and the principal benefactor of the cathedral building project, one John Elmsely, was a former Anglican and a devotee of Augustus Pugin of, inter alia, the English Houses of Parliament fame.

You'll also have noticed a slight disjunction in style between the 1845 church itself and the 1866 bell tower and spire: the latter were designed by the same architect who designed Metropolitan Methodist.

Kim D'Souza said...

Actually, I'm quite sure the galero suspended from the ceiling belonged to James Cardinal McGuigan, who was our archbishop from 1934-1971. It was hanging there well before Cardinal Carter died. As you may know, it sometimes used to be humorously asserted that the galero's owner would be stuck in Purgatory until the rope holding it up turned to dust. Well, whoever hung up Cardinal McGuigan's hat seems to have made use of a steel cable!