Friday 17 March 2017

A Real Work of Arch

In December 1841, the diocese of Toronto was created out of the Archdiocese of Kingston. It remained a diocese for over 28 years. During that time, the diocese had three bishops, including John Joseph Lynch, who became the third Bishop of Toronto in April 1860 after the resignation of Bishop de Charbonnel. On March 18, 1870, at Vatican Council I, Pope Pius IX raised the See of Toronto to metropolitan status, making it an archdiocese and thereby elevating Lynch to first Archbishop of Toronto. To celebrate this anniversary, this week's blog features some documents relating to these two special events.

Lynch had written to a couple of cardinals in 1865 about why Toronto should be raised to a metropolitan see. A few years later, he wrote to Pope Pius IX requesting the same:

Letter from (at that time) Bishop Lynch to Pope Pius IX, written in Latin,
September 21, 1868

L RC50.18
Archbishop Lynch fonds

Bishops from a number of dioceses also appealed together to the Holy See for the See of Toronto be raised to metropolitan status:

Copy of a letter from the bishops of Montreal, Ottawa, Hamilton, [unknown], Toronto, and Sandwich
to the Holy See, written in Latin,
January 29, 1870

L RC52.06
Archbishop Lynch fonds

We thought it would be fun to share the beautiful full-page watermark on the second page of the bishops' letter:

L RC52.06
Archbishop Lynch fonds

It is unclear how much influence, if any, the letters from Bishop Lynch and others had on the pope's decision to raise the See of Toronto to metropolitan dignity, but it became official with this papal bull:

March 18, 1870

L RC52.09
Archbishop Lynch fonds

Here is the papal bull of Lynch's nomination as first Archbishop of Toronto:

March 18, 1870

L RC52.10
Archbishop Lynch fonds

Archbishop Lynch wrote a pastoral letter while in Rome regarding the erection of the Archiepiscopal See (Archdiocese) of Toronto:

First page of Abp. Lynch's pastoral letter,
April 6, 1870

L AA11.05(a)
Archbishop Lynch fonds

Archbishop Lynch's official induction was in September 1870. He sent a copy of the letter below to the Prime Minister, the Premier of Ontario, and the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario to inform them of the news:

St. Michael's Palace
Sept. 15, 1870

I have the honor to inform you that his Holiness Pope Pius IX has been pleased to elevate me to the dignity of Archbishop of the See of Toronto. This however will cause no modification with regard to the Roman C.[atholic] Episcopal Corporation for the diocese.
I have the honor to be
Your Excellencies
Most obt. servt.

Copies of the above were sent to Sir John A. Macdonald, Hon. J. S. Macdonald, Hon. W. P. Howland, Lieut. Gov.

L AH15.07
Archbishop Lynch fonds

Lynch received a reply from Hon. W. P. Howland, congratulating him on his promotion:

Government House
Toronto. 16th September 1870

My Lord Archbishop
I have the honor to acknowledge your Grace's letter of the 15th inst. acquainting me that His Holiness Pope Pius IX has been pleased to elevate you to the dignity of Archbishop of the See of Toronto, upon which event permits me to render to Your Grace my hearty congratulations.
I have the honor to remain Your Grace's most obedient servant
W. P. Howland
Lt. Governor

L AH15.02
Archbishop Lynch fonds

Lynch remained Archbishop until his death on May 12, 1888, and is buried in the garden of St. Michael's Cathedral in Toronto.

The Archdiocese of Toronto is having a year-long celebration of its 175th anniversary with many activities. For more information, please see the media release.


  1. Wow! Quite a bit of history! And the copies of the original documents was really something to see!

    1. We're glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for reading!

  2. I always enjoy these posts.

    1. That's great to hear. Thank you for reading!