Friday 26 August 2016

A Place of Rest and Quiet

On August 28, 1913, St. Augustine's Seminary was dedicated. We have posted many photos of the Seminary and its students in the past, and this week we are featuring the Seminary's chapel. Architect A.W. Holmes drew inspiration for St. Augustine's from Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, Italy. It is speculated that the chapel was inspired by another Florentine church, the Basilica of San Lorenzo.

From The People Cry: Send Us Priests: The First Seventy-Five Years of St. Augustine's Seminary of Toronto, 1913-1988, p. 24-26 by Rev. P.J. Carefoote:

"...Fittingly, the Chapel forms the 'heart' of the central Seminary building, intersecting it in the centre of its three hundred and fifty-six foot length. The Chapel is one hundred and four feet long and forty feet wide, accommodating a congregation of up to 220 people... The original sanctuary with its clean lines and very clear focus was a visual lesson on the Eucharist in itself. Its only decoration was the German stained-glass windows of such topics as "Sacrifice of Melchizedek," "The Crucifixion" and "The Last Supper" by Mayer and Company. The sanctuary depiction of the Incarnation, when the Word was made flesh, continues the ancient tradition in the Church of highlighting that space where the Word is made truly present again and again."

A hand-coloured black and white photo of a liturgical event in the Seminary chapel.

St. Augustine's Seminary Photograph Collection


A hand-coloured black and white photograph of the high altar.

St. Augustine's Seminary Photograph Collection


"The original suggestion made by Mayer and Company for the four rose windows was to portray the four great doctors of the Church. While this would certainly have harmonized with the heavenly patronage of Augustine, it would not have been faithful to the underlying decorative schema. Instead, the symbols of the four evangelists are rendered, again accenting the apostolic endeavor of this institution to preach the Word, thereby making Christ present in the world forever..."

St. Augustine's Seminary Photograph Collection

"A major renovation of the Chapel was directed in 1959 under the technical advice of Sir James Haffa, Architect. Retaining the steps and mensa of the original marble altar, the main altar and reredos were remodeled using a variety of shades and textures of polished marble... The marble statue of St. Augustine... was removed and the space filled in so that an Italian marble crucifix could be erected. Added to each side of the reredos were wooden statues of Saints Augustine and Monica."

A view of the organ loft.

"As the "house of God and gate of heaven" this chapel, then, is an overall success ...Of it can be sung ... "How lovely is thy dwelling place, O Lord of Hosts!" ... This holy place is a place of rejoicing, where God makes himself present in the word of his Apostles and prophets and in the Sacrament of the Altar. It is a place of rest and quiet where God is encountered in peace. It is a place where the Most High dwells among his children."

PH 26A/04CP

"In 1964 the seating was altered from choir stalls to congregational arrangement, which is excellent for participation in the Eucharist and for private devotion, bit is not the happiest arrangement for the Divine Office. At this date, also, the marble altar was replaced by the present granite table, with the central, 'chi-rho' panel of the old high altar coming into new use as the altar of reservation. In general, however, the Chapel has a very prayerful mood about it, owing to its colour scheme and the chastity of its clean design and decoration."

For more on St. Augustine's Seminary, check their website.

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