Friday, 13 September 2019

Give the gift of a Papal Blessing

Having a difficult time coming up with a wedding or birthday gift? Are you attending a baptism, first communication, or confirmation soon? You can celebrate these special occasions by gifting the recipient a Papal Blessing.

A Papal Blessing, or "Benediction Papalis", is a meaningful way to commemorate a moment in your or your loved one's life. While the blessing itself is invisible to the eye, it is memorialized in a parchment certificate containing the name(s) of the recipients, the papal seal, and the current Pope's photograph. These one of a kind parchment certificates are hand-painted and can be kept for years to come.

Last week, ARCAT received this Papal Blessing from the former Catholic Information Centre located at 830 Bathurst Street.

Papal Blessing for Reverend Father Francis Stone, C.S.P., the priests and laity engaged in the work of the Catholic Information Centre, Toronto, Canada.

January 27, 1964

Artifacts Special Collections
AF 393

The Catholic Information Centre (also known as the Paulist Ministry Centre) was dedicated and opened in 1958 under the direction of Fr. Francis Stone, C.S.P. It was occupied by the Paulist Fathers until they returned back to the United States in June 2015.

This Papal Blessing was granted in 1964 and features a photograph of Pope Paul VI. Note the beautiful hand-painted details:

For more information on how to request a Papal Blessing, click here.

Friday, 30 August 2019

Canon Law: Freedom and Authority in the Catholic Church

The Church can be very personal; it is with us from birth, to marriage, to death, and helps us to develop our relationship with God. But the Church is also a large, complex, global institution. It has a lot of moving parts involving over a billion people and almost 3000 dioceses. With so much going on, how do you make sure that each of the Catholic Faithful have their rights under the Church protected and know their responsibilities?

It is for this reason that we have the Code of Canon Law. In 1983 St. Pope John Paul II wrote,
"...a Code of Canon Law is absolutely necessary for the Church. Since the Church is established in the form of a social and visible unit, it needs rules, so that its hierarchical and organic structure may be visible; that its exercise of the functions divinely entrusted to it, particularly of sacred power and of the administration of the sacraments, is properly ordered; that the mutual relationships of Christ's faithful are reconciled in justice based on charity, with the rights of each safeguarded and defined; and lastly, that the common initiatives which are undertaken so that christian life may be ever more perfectly carried out, are supported, strengthened and promoted by canonical laws."

Commemorative booklet  produced for the 50th anniversary of the 1917 Code of Canon Law.


PO RC476.10
Archbishop Pocock Fonds

The 1983 Code of Canon Law is a seven part collection of rules and norms dealing with every aspect of life in the Church. Everything from Church governance to sacraments to punishments is covered. For example, regarding archives Canon 486 states,
"§1. All documents which regard the diocese or parishes must be protected with the greatest care.
§2. In every curia there is to be erected in a safe place a diocesan archive, or record storage area, in which instruments and written documents which pertain to the spiritual and temporal affairs of the diocese are to be safeguarded after being properly filled and diligently secured.
§3. An inventory, or catalog, of the documents which are contained in the archive is to be kept with a brief synopsis of each written document."
The early rules of the Church came from scripture and from the teachings of the apostles. Over the centuries, additional laws were added from various sources such as Papal teachings and ecumenical councils. These laws were collected systematically after the year 1000, but weren't codified until 1917, when the first Code of Canon Law was promulgated by Pope Benedict XV. When the Second Vatican Council was announced, the intention to revise the Code was also announced, and the new and current version was promulgated in 1983 by St. Pope John Paul II.

Dioceses are also able to make rules for the Catholics in their jurisdiction. Here in the archives, we have a handwritten copy of Archbishop Lynch's rules for Toronto. He wrote,
"Rules are necessary in every station and calling in life. The mechanic or merchant who works without rule and order is certain of failure and ruin. Ignorance of rule is a fruitful source of many fatal mistakes, as contempt of the rule itself."
"It has been our most ardent wish, since our Lord imposed on my weak shoulders the heavy and formidable burden of the Episcopacy to establish in the diocese certain rules of Canon law suitable to our condition, and to embody them in diocesan constitutions. After visiting all the missions of the diocese, even the most remote, and some of the most important places several times, we thought this an opportune time to confirm and promulgate those statutes. We have compiled them 1. from the statutes of the first diocesan synod held by the illustrious and most Reverend Dr. Power the first Bishop of Toronto 2. From the pastoral letters and instructions of our venerable and saintly predecessor Rt. Rev. Dr. de Charbonnel 3. From the decrees of the councils of Quebec 4. From the general canons and decrees of the church, adopted and arranged by holy and zealous Bishops, and given to their churches to be observed. A few which are expression of years of the sacred ministry have suggested to our minds, and some by our own beloved clergy.


HO 03.22
Holograph Collection

Just like civil law, Church law has lawyers. A Canon Lawyer, or Canonist, has an advanced degree in the study of canon law. Canon Lawyers work in various positions in the Church, helping to interpret and apply the law for Catholics so that things are done in the right way. For example, Canon Lawyers working in marriage tribunals decide whether marriages are valid according to the Code when annulments are sought.

Even if they don't have the advanced degree, priests and bishops need to know about Canon Law. Bishop Power's notes on Canonistics are here in the archives:

Index to Bishop Power's student notes, including a section on the Crime of Simony.


HO 01.03
Holograph Collection

Cardinal McGuigan earned a Licentiate in Canon Law from Laval University in 1916:

Magisterii seu Licentiae in Jure Canonico Gradum

June 18, 1916

MG AA02.03
Cardinal McGuigan Fonds

While the canons themselves aren't particularly lengthy, there is a lot more commentary of Canon Law that helps while applying the law to real situations. For example, the annulment of the marriage of Consuelo Vanderbilt and the Duke of Marlborough was an issue discussed by canonists:

Rev. Stanislaus Woywood, OFM, discusses why the Vanderbilt-Marlborough marriage was invalid.


MN AS22.03
Archbishop McNeil Fonds

While promoting the study of Canon Law to the bishops in 1975, the Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education explained and quoted Pope Paul VI,
"While first place is assigned to the spirit and to the interior life, nevertheless belonging organically to the Body of the Church, the presence of the Church authority, and submission to this authority always remain as irreplaceably necessary elements willed by the Divine Founder of the Catholic Church. In the Church freedom and authority are not terms of opposition, but rather values complementing one another. Their mutual cooperation promotes the growth of the community and at the same time the capacity for initiative and enrichment of its single members. In calling attention to the principle of authority and to the necessity for a juridic order, nothing is being taken away from the value of freedom or from the esteem in which it ought to be held. This recalling to authority rather serves to stress the need for a secure and efficacious safeguarding of the goods which all have a right to posses, including the basic one of exercising freedom itself. Only a social system that is well ordered can guarantee liberty adequately. As a matter of fact, what would freedom be worth to an individual if it were not protected by wise and suitable norms?"" (PO RC 555.01)
As a global community of Catholics, we benefit from having 2000 years of legal thought to guide us. It's a subject worth studying!

Friday, 16 August 2019

Director's Cut: Microfilm is the Reel Deal

When I started working at ARCAT, one of the first collections I really had to understand and be able to use was the Parish Sacramental Records on microfilm. This resource contains the information needed to answer the most commonly asked questions received by our office.

In 1964, Baptism, Marriage, Confirmation, First Communion and Death records of each parish in the Archdiocese of Toronto were microfilmed so that copies of these records could be retained by the Chancery. The copies were updated several times between 1964 and 1983. In order to ensure that updates would occur regularly, the Archives began a five year cyclical microfilm program in 1993. The Parish Sacramental Records Microfilm Program ensures that the Archdiocese of Toronto is maintaining a backup copy of our most vital records. You can find out more about the program here.

Photograph of 1863 Baptisms in the original 1850-1901 Baptism and Marriage Register of St. John Chrysostom Parish, Newmarket

Accession 2010-009

ARCAT Staff Photo

Photograph of the microfilm copy created in 1964 of the same page of 1863 Baptisms from the 1850-1901 Baptism and Marriage Register of St. John Chrysostom Parish, Newmarket

ARCAT Staff Photo

Why Microfilm?

We are often asked why we still use microfilm technology for this program with the plethora of digital solutions available. The answers are simple: digital records are even more fragile than the original handwritten registers, and technology is constantly changing.

One analogy I use to illustrate digital fragility is this: imagine taking a pen with a sharp tip and deliberately slashing across a page of a paper sacramental register. You may have marred a letter or two, but overall the information on that page and in the rest of the book will still be completely legible. If you did the same thing to a strip of microfilm, you may have to repair the affected area and you will likely have trouble making out a word or two on the page, but again, overall the information is still intact. Now, imagine slashing a disc or other electronic storage media with a sharp object. You may have gotten lucky and only corrupted one record or one image of a whole page; but, the more likely scenario is that you have rendered the entirety of the information stored on that media inaccessible or indecipherable.

Furthermore, accessing the records becomes increasingly complicated as you upgrade technologies. So many things have to work in order to view electronic records, with the most basic need being electricity; in a power outage, microfilm could, if necessary, be read with a light source and a magnifying glass. The equipment and programs used to create, store, and use digital material change very rapidly and older technologies quickly become obsolete. To save information long term, it needs to be constantly migrated to new digital formats and new hardware. So, if you were to scan a baptism record from today, there is no guarantee that the information from the digital copy will be accessible by the time the child is requesting a copy for their First Communion, let alone their Confirmation or their Marriage perhaps 20 years from now. Sometimes, as in the case of microfilm technology, the simpler solution is the longest lasting.

As with most things in archives (and life for that matter!), context is key. The purpose for creating the copy needs to be the first thing you consider when deciding the method you will use for your program or project. While electronic copies of the records do indeed facilitate the sharing of information for day-to-day administrative purposes, they are not the best solution for long-term storage. The primary purpose of our Parish Sacramental Records Microfilm Program is to create a backup copy of our organization's most vital records, so the copy needs to be considered as stable and viable in the long-term as the original. Microfilm will easily last as long as the original sacramental registers, and it is even harder to destroy than paper.

Another benefit of microfilm is that you are not limited to that format alone once the process is complete. Digitizing microfilm is a fairly simple process with the right scanning equipment. There are dioceses running similar programs who have chosen to have their vendor create both a microfilm copy of the sacramental records as the vital records backup and digital images for simplicity of access at the same time.

One of the most satisfying outcomes of this program is that the Archives staff are able to use the microfilm copies to facilitate searches for sacramental records when individuals don't know where their sacraments took place. For more information on how we conduct searches for a sacramental record, please see here. Our reference statistics consistently show that sacramental records searches make up almost 1/3 of our total reference requests and nearly 50% of our external reference requests.

So, the next time you think analog technology is dead… just remember that when archivists are thinking in the long-term, we aren’t thinking about 5 or 10 years from now. We are considering how to keep important information accessible for as long as possible: as in 500 or 10,000 years from now!

Gillian Hearns, Director of Archives and Privacy Officer, viewing the microfilm.

ARCAT Staff Photo 

Friday, 2 August 2019

The Archdiocese goes to the Ex

The opening day of the 140th Canadian National Exhibition is only a couple of weeks away. As we look to enjoy the final weeks of summer, we wanted to share some ephemera and correspondence about the C.N.E. from our collection.

Cardinal McGuigan and Archbishop Pocock were often invited to attend the inaugural day ceremonies and accompanying luncheons during their Episcopacy. Busy schedules (and later in life declining health) meant they often declined the invitations, yet we know that Archbishop Pocock attended at least a couple of the opening day celebrations.

Archbishop Pocock sits third from right at the opening day ceremonies
at the CNE bandshell, August 15, 1974


In 1965, the organizers must have realized that the head of the Catholic Archdiocese would not very well be bringing a wife to the event. "Lady" is crossed out and "Guest" added in. Cardinal McGuigan would have had to decline the invite due to his declining health.

Invitation to attend the inaugural ceremonies, 1965, addressed to Cardinal McGuigan

ARCAT Chancery Office Files : Canadian National Exhibition

Archbishop Pocock was invited to attend on opening day in 1969 when he was still Coadjutor Archbishop. He agreed to say grace before the luncheon that day and we have a draft of the prayer he intended to say along with a letter from the President of the C.N.E. expressing his thanks.

 "Eternal Father, gathered here to open the ninety-first Canadian National Exhibition we humbly offer you our thanks for all the blessings you have given to our beloved country; the beauty of its landscapes, the richness of its soil, the wealth of its resources, the dreams and sacrifices of its founders, the dedications of its leaders and of all who try courageously to guide it towards its destiny in justice, in unity and in peace. we thank you above all for our spiritual heritage, our faith and our dependence on you, our Lord and creator.

We ask your forgiveness for our shortcomings and we earnestly ask you to make of us a free people; free of selfishness, free of discrimination, free of greed, free of separation one from another.

On these historic grounds we now place on display the first fruits of our minds, our hearts and our hands; the achievements of the arts, of science, of industry and of agriculture. All of these we offer to you, our Lord and Master, with the earnest prayer that we may use our talents and resources in your service and in the service of your people here in Canada and throughout the world.

As you have blessed us so abundantly, so make of us a people dedicated to the highest ideals of social justice, of mutual understanding and love and grant us the effective determination to live at peace among ourselves and with all nations. This we humbly ask in your holy name. Amen."

ARCAT Chancery Files: Canadian National Exhibition

The Archdiocese also ran a Catholic Church Exhibit for the C.N.E. at least once. This pamphlet from the exhibit is from 1964 shows what the exhibit would have looked like. Interesting items on display include the sandals worn by Pope John at his coronation.

ARCAT Chancery Files: Canadian National Exhibition

Friday, 19 July 2019

What Do a Peanut, a President, and a Prince Have in Common?

What men’s fashion item is so iconic that it has endured since the late 18th century as a symbol of taste and class? Worn by princes, like Queen Victoria's husband Prince Albert and presidents like Abraham Lincoln? An item that helped drive the North American fur trade? Can be seen on characters like Mr. Moneybags of Monopoly fame, Uncle Sam, Scrooge McDuck, Mr. Peanut, and Tuxedo Mask? If you guessed the top hat, you’re right!

A magical find in the archives! This silk top hat complete with its own carrying case was hiding right under our noses the whole time.

AF 239
ARCAT Special Collections

ARCAT Staff Photo

We recently looked in a box that nobody who works at ARCAT had had the occasion to open before, and were thrilled to realize that it contained a top hat in beautiful condition complete with its own hat box. This treasure was owned by Fr. Felix Smyth, who lived from 1859-1937. There is some indication that the hat was produced in the early 20th century.  

In her book Hats and Headwear Around the World: A Cultural Encyclopedia, Beverly Chico describes the top hat as “a tall, stiff headpiece with a rolled and turned-up brim, formed in the shape of an upright cylinder with a closed, flat top. With curved or rounded sides, the vertical tube-like crown is usually a modified circle or oval to better fit the human head.” There can be some variation in the height and shape of the crown, but the overall style is distinctive as the proper topper for formal dress. 

Top hats began to be worn in the late 1700s in France and England and grew in popularity over the next few decades. At that time, their waterproof beaver fur construction made them both practical and desirable. Beaver hats were so popular that they helped turn beaver pelts into the main trade of the Hudson’s Bay Company in its early years. 

By the middle of the century, silk hats gained popularity as a lighter option, and their status as the go-to hat of the aristocracy and of the commoners alike was cemented when Prince Albert began wearing them. They became de rigueur at formal occasions as part of the expected attire for men. Presidents were inaugurated in them, they were worn to weddings and funerals, they were worn on the street. They were even worn here in Toronto by our own Captain Elmsley, who is noted for donating much of his time, money, and land to the early diocese:

Captain John Elmsley poses for a portrait with his top hat.

Photo courtesy of the General Archives of the Basilian Fathers

We believe the top hat in our collection is made with a material known as silk plush. The material is no longer in production; nobody even knows how to make it today! Vintage silk hats are prized by collectors for their stylish shine, even though they are high maintenance. They must be brushed in order to produce their lustrous sheen. A gentleman must have a shiny hat if he doesn't want to appear unkempt! The brim is trimmed with grosgrain ribbon and a felt band circles the crown.

You can see how shiny this hat is even though it probably hasn't been brushed in decades. Perhaps it's an opportunity to learn a new skill!

AF 239
ARCAT Special Collections

ARCAT Staff Photo

The hat in our collection was made by Lincoln, Bennett, & Co., which was a supplier to the royal family, in London and sold by S. Hyndman Tailor & Hosier in Londonderry.

AF 239
ARCAT Special Collections

ARCAT Staff Photo

The case was affixed with an Anchor Line steam ship label, but we were disappointed that the label wasn't filled out with any information about the hat's owner.

Anchor Line steamship label: Londonerrry to New York

AF 239

ARCAT Special Collections

ARCAT Staff Photo

All packed up and you're ready to hop across the pond to hob-nob with the high hats!

AF 239
ARCAT Special Collections

ARCAT Staff Photo

Though the popularity of the top hat waned in the first half of the 20th century with the rise of the fedora, top hats are still expected attire for gentlemen attending the Royal Ascot, and can be seen when men want to add a little something extra special to their outfit. Here in the archives, we think they're poised for a comeback!

Friday, 5 July 2019

Steps through Time

We have a new exhibit at the Catholic Pastoral Centre!

Since the Archdiocese of Toronto is one of the most ethnically diverse Catholic dioceses in the world, we wanted to take an opportunity to celebrate this fact.

Steps through Time takes the viewer on a visual tour through six properties in downtown Toronto, uncovering over nine different cultural communities represented in their histories.

Come see items from Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, St. Patrick's Church, Catholic Settlement House, Felician Sisters Convent/Nursery, St. Stanislaus Church and St. Mary's Church.

We invite viewers to engage with these histories not only visually but physically, as well. Since all properties are still important and functioning fixtures of the Archdiocese of Toronto, we have a self-guided walking tour that goes along with the display.

Next time you're at 1155 Yonge Street, come up to the Archives Department on the 5th floor to take a look!

Friday, 28 June 2019

Happy Canada Day!

We’re all looking forward to celebrating Canada Day this weekend, and what better way to mark the occasion than a good meal with good friends.

Barbecues and parties are popular ways to celebrate any summer holiday, which could be problematic for Catholics if the occasion falls on a Friday. Canon Law states that abstinence from meat should be observed on Fridays throughout the year.

Such was the problem in 1927 when the country was gearing up to celebrate the Jubilee of Confederation. Luckily the Holy See granted Canadian Catholics a dispensation from abstinence for Canada Day, meaning they were free to eat, drink and be merry.
Holy See grants Canadian Catholics dispensation from abstinence for Friday July 1st . June 21, 1927

Between 40,000 and 50,000 people turned up in person to celebrate the jubilee on Parliament Hill. Celebrations included music, poetry readings and speeches, and broadcast across the country by the CBC. You can listen to part of the broadcast, and learn more about the1927 Jubilee occasion, here.

MN DS29.02

Archbishop McNeil Roman Correspondence Files

We don't have to worry about abstinence getting in the way of Canada Day this year, so get out there and celebrate!

Enjoy the long weekend! Happy Canada Day!