Monday, 28 October 2013

Darn it! Sacred Stitches is sew worth seeing!

If you are anywhere in downtown Toronto this week, it's definitely worth popping over to St. James Anglican Cathedral to see Sacred Stitches: Beauty and Holiness in the Needlework of Many Faiths. The show celebrates the Ecclesiastical Needleworkers' centenary and features over 100 works of embroidery and textile art.

Sacred Stitches is installed in St. James Anglican Cathedral.  The image on the poster (above) comes from the stained glass window on the left of this photo, illustrating the renewal of culture in England during the 9th and 10th centuries following the Viking invasions.

This multi-faith exhibit includes pieces by contemporary artists, cherished family heirlooms, and gorgeous banners, vestments and tapestries created by stitchery guilds.

ARCAT was thrilled to participate in the exhibit.  We loaned a fiddleback chasuble and dalmatic, funeral vestments and a pair of ceremonial gloves.

The dalmatic (the liturgical vestment worn by deacons) from ARCAT's collection features painted velvet flowers which have been stitched to the silk.  Originally from St. Margaret's Parish in Midland. Transferred to ARCAT for preservation after a fire at the parish in 1986.

The pieces have been installed all along the side aisles of the church and in front of the sanctuary. The exhibit is supervised twelve hours a day (even during services) by a large group of dedicated volunteers. Archivist and museum curator Nancy Mallett and her team have spent months coordinating and promoting this show. Their very impressive efforts were rewarded with over 400 visitors on opening day.

The exhibit runs until Friday, November 1st, from 7 am to 7 pm.  Free admission; donations welcome.

A nuptial chuppah (canopy used during Jewish marriage ceremonies); funeral pall (stitched by the Cariboo Group of women at Grace Church-on-the-Hill) and a new cope (created in Ukraine for Christ the Saviour Russian Orthodox Cathedral).

In front of the baptistry are displayed textiles used in infantile initiation rites. To the right is a traditional “elder’s outfit” to wear to a wedding in China.

A personal favourite.
Chasuble with embroidery that picks up the brocade pattern on the fabric.
From St. Thomas Anglican Church, Toronto.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Record of the Week: Do you think they served pumpkin pie?

 We are directed by the Lord Bishop of Toronto to inform you, that the Metropolitan of Canada has suggested the third Thursday in November next, viz November 16th, as a suitable day on which the members of all Christian Bodies in this and the neighbouring Provinces, might unite in offering up to the Almighty Giver of all Good, their praises and thanksgivings for the Blessings which he has bestowed upon us, and our Country, by the renewal of a bountiful Harvest, and the continuance of peace and prosperity. (Bishop Lynch fonds, L AH 22.13)

At ARCAT, we found an 1877 letter from the Anglican Diocese of Toronto to Bishop Lynch asking for his support for a day of thanksgiving in November. The campaign must not have been successful, because no days of thanksgiving are recorded as having been observed between 1872 and 1879. 

The current date of Thanksgiving was officially fixed in 1957 for the second Monday in October. The reason for the holiday is stated as "For general thanksgiving to Almighty God for the blessings with which the people of Canada have been favoured."

Prior to that, the date was proclaimed each year, and the reason for thanksgiving varied. Many years were thankful for "blessings of an abundant harvest." 

Some other thanksgivings of note:
  • Thursday, January 10th, 1799: "In signal victory over our enemy and for the manifold and inestimable blessings which our Kingdoms and Provinces have recieved and daily continue to receive."
  • Thursday, April 6th, 1815: "End of the war with the United States of America and resotration of the blessings of Peace."
  • Wednesday, February 6th, 1833: "Cessation of cholera."
  • Monday, April 15th, 1872: "For restoration to health of H.R.H. the Prince of Wales."
  • Saturday, August 9th, 1902: "King's Coronation, as a day of General Thanksgiving and rejoicing."
Check here and here fore more information about our beloved autumn holiday.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, 7 October 2013

Diocese of Hamilton blesses the new Bishop Farrell Library & Archives

Last Monday, the ARCAT staff had the opportunity to attend the blessing and opening of the Bishop Farrell Library & Archives in the Diocese of Hamilton. The newly renovated building is located within the diocesan complex, beside the Chancery Office and Christ the King Cathedral Basilica. It was a lovely event and the archives facilities were especially impressive.  Congratulations to the Director of Library & Archives, Dominy Williams, and to the Diocese of Hamilton!

The new library & archives on the cathedral grounds.

Bishop Farrell Library - named after the first ordinary of the diocese.

Archival storeroom with movable shelving and this fancy screen for storing wall-mounted objects.

Archival facilities include a processing room with a digitization lab,
and a transfer/holding room for new accessions.

Perched on the edge of the Niagara escarpment, the Cathedral's steeple is clearly visible when approaching the city from the east.  It was wonderful to finally go inside.

Approaching Hamilton on Hwy 403 West, the steeple is a dominant feature on the landscape.

Christ the King Cathedral Basilica, Diocese of Hamilton

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Record of the Week: St. Michael the Archangel, Our Patron Saint

Blessing and laying of the cornerstone of the new cathedral of this city to be erected under the invocation of St. Michael the Archangel "whom we had already and publicly announced as the Principal Patron - protector of the City of Toronto"
Special Collections: Letterbooks, LB01.133
This past Sunday, September 29, 2013 the whole Archdiocese of Toronto celebrated the Solemnity of St. Michael the Archangel, our patron saint.  One hundred and sixty-five years ago on September 29, 1848, St. Michael’s Cathedral was dedicated.  The naming of the Cathedral and the dedication of the diocese to St. Michael the Archangel has much significance.  Not only was our first bishop, Michael Power named for him, but as a warrior and protector, St. Michael would have been a powerful and fierce saint to invoke in nineteenth century Ontario.  Toronto was at the edge of the frontier and the Catholics of the time would have felt the need to keep the forces of evil and Protestantism at bay.

The image above is the record of the laying of the cornerstone of St. Michael’s Cathedral on May 8, 1845.  This record can be found in a letterbook, which is an oversized bound volume.  Before photocopiers and even carbon paper, letterbooks were the way bishops in the past kept copies of outgoing correspondence, recorded special events, and documented important appointments, policies and regulations of the Diocese.