Friday, 30 January 2015

Record of the Week: "Dom Bosco est mort"

Tomorrow is the the feast day of St. John Bosco and the anniversary of his death. This year marks 200 years since his birth in northern Italy, in a hamlet outside of Turin.

As a priest, Don (Father) Bosco founded the Congregation of St. Francis de Sales (the Salesian Fathers), and co-founded the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians (the Salesian Sisters). He was canonized in 1934 by Pope Pius XI and given the title "Father and Teacher of Youth."  Youth ministry is the primary vocation of the Salesian orders.

Archbishop of Toronto John Lynch was sent the announcement of Don Bosco's death, issued from the Oratory of Saint Francis de Sales in Turin, 31 January 1888: 

Archbishop Lynch fonds, LAH33.78

"It is with a breaking heart, eyes full of tears and a trembling hand, that I convey to you the painful news, the most painful news I have ever announced or will ever have to announce: our good loving father in Jesus Christ, our founder, friend, advisor, guide of our lives, Dom Bosco, is dead.[translated from French]

Archbishop Lynch fonds, LAH33.78

"...With the support and advice of my confreres, I am certain the Pious Society of Saint Francis de Sales, supported by the arm of God, strong with the protection of Mary Help of Christians and the generous charity of Salesian cooperators, will continue the works created by its revered and lamented founder, in particular the Christian education of the poor and dispossessed youth and foreign Missions...

"...we no longer have our good Father among us, but we will meet him again in Heaven if we apply his advice, and if we walk faithfully in his footsteps.

"Believe me, even in pain and in sorrow..."  [translated from French]

To the modern reader, the announcement may seem overly sentimental. However, the heartfelt language is indicative of the steadfast devotion of Don Bosco's followers and his reputation as an inspirational, holy man.

The author, Rev. Michel Rua, states, "I am certain the Pious Society of Saint Francis de Sales...will continue the works created by its revered and lamented founder."  In this archdiocese, Don Bosco's legacy continues to guide the Salesian Fathers at the parish of St. Benedict in Etobicoke. Read more in this article from The Catholic Register.

Join His Eminence Thomas Cardinal Collins at he celebrates the Solemn Mass for the Feast of St. John Bosco at St. Paul's Basilica (83 Power St., Toronto), Saturday, January 31 at 10 a.m.

Friday, 23 January 2015

The Evolution of Ecumenism

This week we celebrate the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which runs from January 18 - 25. Events during this week bring together people from different Christian denominations to talk and pray together to foster mutual understanding.

Today, the idea that Christians should respect each other and find common ground is accepted as a given, but it's no secret that different denominations didn't always get along. Differences in belief were exacerbated by political and social pressures, and the will to understand one another was lacking.

The archival record reflects how attitudes towards ecumenism (practices promoting Christian unity and cooperation) have changed over time. Consider the following examples from the ARCAT stacks:

In 1835 a Catholic who signed as "A Friend to the Good Cause" wrote to Bishop Macdonell regarding Catholic marriages. The writer was very scandalized that Protestants and Catholics were allowed to marry, and that Catholics were being married by Protestant clergy.

"You are aware that the laws of Canada allow and enjoin a magistrate of any denomination to perform that Sacrament or that the same is performed by Roman Catholic Magistrates or Squires throughout the Province. They not only marry Protestants but they also unite Catholics or rather in the eyes of Holy mother Church they tell their deluded victims that the Law sanctions their living in open fornication. It has also unfortunately been but too often the case that Catholics of the highest respectability in this country have been united by Protestant Clergymen without ever having recourse." (M AD01.01) 
The feeling seems to have been mutual. In 1849 Bishop Power received a letter from a Protestant regarding Catholic devotion to Mary: "... Consequently such service must be ten degrees worse than heathenish superstition. Oh alas! without all doubt the Great God, who will not give his worship or glory to any other, must be greatly offended at such idolatry. In the name of common sense abandon such damnable, forbidden and unscriptural worship before the Lord sweep off the earth as he is at present doing, with a sudden disease all Priests in Christendom together with their deluded victims." (P AB13.02)

However around this time there was some desire for Christian unity. Bishop Power had in his possession a published "Prayer for the Unity of the Holy Church" written by a "Priest of the English Church:"

P AA03.03

In the 1880s Archbishop Lynch wrote "Being appointed by your saintly predecessor over twenty years ago to the See of Toronto, one of the most Protestant and bigoted cities in America, where everything Catholic is assailed ... with the utmost malignity, we undertook our task by striking at the root of their intolerance, which was principally pride and ignorance." (L RC63.17) Lynch had to deal with a city in which the antagonism that existed between Irish Catholics and British Protestants was very much a reality. The lack of desire for dialogue would have gone both ways.

In 1897 Archbishop Walsh gave a lecture regarding the differences between Catholics and Protestants. The title was less than diplomatic:

"Some Things Which Catholics Do Not Believe or Protestant Fictions and Catholic Facts."
W AA04.01

In 1908, the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity, the precursor to the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity was established by Father Paul Wattson, SA. There was more and more interest in ecumenism, but there was still some hesitance.

By mid century, the Church's position was beginning to soften. In a 1949 letter, bishops were encouraged to continue to pray for Christian unity, but to be careful to make sure that their Parishioners were not participating in "initiatives" that did not rest upon "correct principles"  (MG RC295.02).

In the early 1960s, big changes were in store for the Church. The Second Vatican Council produced a document called Unitatis Redintegratio, or Decree on Ecumenism. This document explains, "We must get to know the outlook of our separated brethren." It calls upon Catholics to work towards unity "according to his talent."

Ecumenical services were held:

PO EC01.08

As Archbishop Pocock put it in 1965: "With regard to ecumenism, we can rejoice together at the great progress that has been made during the past two years. Members of different communions are now meeting together quite frequently to pray for Christian unity and for the solution of other serious problems. In a spirit of true charity Protestants and Catholics, Anglicans and Orthodox, are coming to regard one another with trust rather than with suspicion and to associate in a spirit of Christian love. Through theological discussion at many levels, we are beginning to understand and respect one another, and are thereby taking the first steps toward unity in faith" (PO CO05.04).

In 1984, Pope John Paul II celebrated an Ecumenical service at St. Paul's Anglican Cathedral in Toronto:

PH 65 Photograph courtesy of Concacan Inc, 1984.

In 1995 he wrote a Pastoral Letter, Ut Unum Sint or On Commitment to Ecumenism. He explained, "Christians cannot underestimate the burden of long-standing misgivings inherited from the past, and of mutual misunderstandings and prejudices. Complacency, indifference and insufficient knowledge of one another often make this situation worse. Consequently, the commitment to ecumenism must be based upon the conversion of hearts and upon prayer, which will also lead to the necessary purification of past memories. With the grace of the Holy Spirit, the Lord's disciples, inspired by love, by the power of the truth and by a sincere desire for mutual forgiveness and reconciliation, are called to re-examine together their painful past and the hurt which that past regrettably continues to provoke even today."

Today, the Archdiocese of Toronto maintains an Office of Ecumenical and Interfaith Affairs. This office is very involved in ecumenical activities throughout the diocese, and has been involved in the planning of this year's Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which culminates in an ecumenical prayer service on Sunday January 25th.

As Pope Francis said, " The Holy Spirit creates diversity in the Church ... and this diversity is very rich and very beautiful. But then, the Holy Spirit also brings unity, and in that way, the church is one in its diversity."

Friday, 16 January 2015

The Year of Consecrated Life: Celebrating the Loretto Sisters

The Year of Consecrated Life began at the end of November 2014 and will conclude on February 2, 2016.  The objectives for the Year of Consecrated Life are: gratefully remembering; and embracing the future with hope. To support these objectives we will post one blog per month featuring a religious order currently present in the Archdiocese of Toronto throughout the Year of Consecrated Life.

We begin the celebration by focusing on the first female religious order to establish itself in Toronto, the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (I.B.V.M.), commonly known as the Loretto Sisters.

In 1847, Bishop Michael Power, the first bishop of the still new Diocese of Toronto used an ad limina visit to Rome to conduct a recruitment drive for priests and religious in Europe. On June 1, 1847 he visited Mother Teresa Ball at Rathfarnham, Ireland and the two agreed that sisters would be sent to establish schools in Toronto.

Five sisters arrived in Toronto on September 16, 1847 amid the typhus epidemic. No one greeted them upon their arrival as Bishop Power had not yet received the letter (below) detailing their travel plans. Despite the circumstances, they had set up their first residence on what is now Adelaide Street within a week and opened a school.

Religious Orders fonds: Sisters of Loretto (I.B.V.M.): General Correspondence, 1816-1849, July 20, 1847.

"Loretto AbbeyRathfarnhamDublin20th July 1847
Most Honored Lord,

"I was gratified with your Lordship's letter, dated from Toronto, 25th of last June.  I wrote today to inform Dr. O'Connell P.P. of Sts. Michael and John's Chapel that five of our Nuns will be prepared to sail from Kingstown to Liverpool 2nd August to proceed by the Packet, which will sail 3rd August for Boston U.S.

"The sixth Religious selected to complete the number desired by your Lordship exchanged this life, we trust, for heaven 5th of last July: possibly a candidate for Religious life may offer at Toronto and be trained to supply the place of one, who we hope, will intercede for the little colony, who go to propagate the holy faith under the auspices of the sacred hearts of Jesus and Mary and under the patronage of our glorious protector St. Michael. 

"No Titles[?] can be more appropriate for the numbers of our Institute, than that of the Diocese.It will not be easy to supply the places vacated by our Sisters, who volunteer for Canada we wish to send steady persons, who will be creditable abroad, as they have been edifying in their native country.

"Since writing the above Dr. O'Connell P.P. called and will be ready for our five to sail from Kingstown 10th August and from Liverpool to New York U.S. 11th August by the "Garrick". Passages for each from Liverpool to New York 25 pounds[?]."...
Religious Orders fonds: Sisters of Loretto (I.B.V.M.): General Correspondence, 1816-1849, July 20, 1847.

..."We have chosen Mrs. Anne Hutchinson for Reverend Mother she is 30 years of age; her religious appellation is Mary Joseph Loyola.

"Her assistant will be Mrs. Fleming, called Mary Gertrude she is aged 27 years.Mrs. Dease in religion Mary Teresa is well educated and intimate with Mrs. Phelan known to us, by the name of Mary Bonaventura and prized.

"The fifth is Sister to Reverend Mother, we style her Mary Valentina, she was educated in our school.All enjoy health and are are amiably disposed.If it meet your Lordship's wishes I can have a person with a religious vocation trained in the model school Dublin who can forward free schools in Canada by introducing the most approved plans for conveying knowledge.

"Two were already benefited, a third is to join a class in the Model School next month.
This is the 14th anniversary of our first filiation from this Abbey. Toronto will be the 10th Foundation from Loretto, Dublin. May it be equally prosperous with the preceding establishments.

"Since I received the honor of your Lordship's visit, a very beautiful demesne superior to Rathfarnham has been added to our acquisitions: a fine house too on it.

"All our Sisters enjoy their usual health.Soliciting the benefit of your Lordship's prayers,

"With esteem and respect,
Your humble servant in Jesus Christ
Frances Teresa Ball

"To Right Rev. Dr. Power"

Within a month Bishop Power had died of typhus. By March 1851, three of the five original sisters had died and were buried in St. Michael’s Cathedral crypt. Another had returned to Ireland. This left Teresa Dease as superior.  She took up the mantle of leadership and spent nearly four decades shaping the growth of the I.B.V.M. in North America.

First page of the entry entitled, "Sisters of Loretto"
 PH 31P/228AL, Religious Orders of the Archdiocese of Toronto Album believed to have been created in the 1960s.

In 2009, the Lorettos celebrated 400 years since their foundation by Mary Ward. A display celebrating this milestone was erected in the Pastoral Centre lobby:

ARCAT staff photo.
The Loretto Sisters currently work in education, the promotion of justice, and ministries of spirituality and pastoral care. They are truly contemplatives in action responding to the needs of the time.  For further information on the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (I.B.V.M.) please see their website.

For further historical information please contact the Institute Archives of the Canadian Province.

For information on vocations please contact: Sr. Lynn Cira, IBVM, Loretto College, 70 St. Mary Street, Toronto, ON Canada M58 1J3; Phone: 416-925-2833 ext. 5231; E-mail:

For general information on vocations please contact the Archdiocese of Toronto's Office of Vocations.

For further information on The Year of Consecrated Life, please see the November 28, 2014 post on the Archdiocese of Toronto blog.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Happy 200th birthday, Prime Minister Macdonald!

This weekend marks the 200th birthday of Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada's first Prime Minister and a father of confederation.

Our very own Archbishop Lynch was a frequent correspondent of Sir John A. ARCAT holds a number of signed letters from the Prime Minister. Many of them were political in nature: the two worked together on issues such as Irish immigration. Lynch made suggestions for candidates for political office, and Macdonald used Lynch's influence to gain the Catholic vote.

Below is a personal letter that Macdonald wrote to Lynch on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Lynch's episcopate.

"Dec 10 / 1884

My dear Lord Archbishop. - I only arrived here from England yesterday and found an infinity of work awaiting me. It grieves me very much that I am prevented by pressure of public business from being present at the celebration of the twenty fifth year of your Episcopate. 

"Lady Macdonald wrote me to England of your kind invitation. -

"I can only express my best wishes for a long continuance of your health and strength. - 

"My wife joins me in sending you our [?] kindest regards. 

"Bless me, Your Grace's very obedient servant,

John A Macdonald"

L AF02.31
As you can see, our first Prime Minister didn't have the neatest penmanship.

Letters such as the above show how early Canadian ordinaries worked to maintain relationships with political leaders. By remaining friendly, bishops would have been able to lobby for policies that improved the lives of their flock. As well, it's another example of how Archdiocese of Toronto history is also Canadian history.

Happy Birthday, Sir John A.!

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

On the twelfth day of Christmas, ARCAT stored for me…

...twelve illum’nated texts,

Bishops' fonds and Special Collections
AF.158, POAA45.02, POAA45.03, AF.275, AF.075, AF.008, AF.111, RB.30, AF.074, AF.077, PB.04

For the purposes of today's post, illumination refers to gold or silver decoration added to textual material. We have included both hand-illuminated records as well as printed items, where metallic inks have been applied using a mechanical process. From left to right:

  • The first seven are pages from illuminated addresses, which are decorated booklets typically presented to bishops to mark special anniversaries or jubilees. The addresses usually include a biography of the bishop. The first and fifth images were created by noted Toronto artist A. H. Howard for the 25th anniversary of Archbishop Walsh's consecration in 1892.  These pages have small illustrations of St. Peter's Cathedral in London and St. Michael's Cathedral in Toronto, respectively.
  • The next two are examples of illuminated, printed books: The Holy Bible and a limited edition of Humanae Salutis, the Apostolic Constitution with which Pope John XXIII solemnly convoked the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council on 25 December 1961.
  • In the bottom left corner are the letters patent registering the 1984 coat of arms of the Archdiocese of Toronto with the College of Arms in England.
  • Next is an illuminated printed certificate naming Archbishop Lynch of Toronto an elected member of the Roman Society of Jusrisconsults in 1879.
  • The last image is a papal bull issued by Pius XI with a decorated initial "P."

eleven saintly medals,

ten ’broidered vestments,

nine document seals,

eight spir’tual bouquets,

seven papal bulls,

six pairs of buskins,

five golden rings,

four photographs,

three mitres,

two maniples,

and a pen used to vote at Conclave.

With the Feast of the Epiphany, the twelve days of Christmas come to an end.  We hope you've enjoyed our artifacts show and tell.  Happy New Year!

Monday, 5 January 2015

On the eleventh day of Christmas, ARCAT stored for me…

...eleven saintly medals,

Medallions Special Collection
MD.20, MD.141, MD.64, MD.126, MD.111, MD.101, MD.80, MD.42, MD.74, MD.36, MD.51, MD.64

Medals are typically round pieces of metal struck or cast for commemorative purposes. Religious devotional medals often depict the saints.  Medals may be designed for display purposes, or to be worn or attached to a rosary.

In the Middle Ages, it became common practice for pilgrimage sites to distribute tokens cast in lead, which served as a souvenir and proof that the pilgrim had duly reached the destination. During the Renaissance, religious medals became aides in popular devotion, often because the medals were given a papal blessing or enriched with indulgences. The issuing of papal jubilee medals began as early as 1475. Since then, the most noteworthy actions of each pontificate have been commemorated with medals.

Today we highlight “saintly medals” in our collections, including religious medals of saints, and papal medals of popes who have since been canonized (left to right):

  • St. John XXIII (the Pope is wearing headgear known as the Papal Camauro, a cap of wool or velvet with fur trim)
  • St. Elizabeth of Hungary
  • The Conversion of St. Augustine
  • St. Paul (presumably because this bearded figure is holding a scroll, representing the Scriptures)
  • St. John Paul II (World Youth Day Toronto 2002 medal)
  • St. Charles Borromeo
  • St. Christopher medallion, popularly worn by travelers or hung in vehicles for protection.  The reverse of this medallion states: “I am a Catholic. In case of accident call a priest."  
  • St. Pius X
  • St. Joseph, distributed at the Oratory in Montreal
  • St. Gregory Barbarigo
  • St. Marguerite Bourgeoys, a Canadian saint

ten ’broidered vestments,

nine document seals,

eight spir’tual bouquets,

seven papal bulls,

six pairs of buskins,

five golden rings,

four photographs,

three mitres,

two maniples,

and a pen used to vote at Conclave.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

On the tenth day of Christmas, ARCAT stored for me…

...ten ’broidered vestments,

Textiles Special Collection, TX.01, TX.06, TX.101, TX.50, TX.09. TX.121, TX.49, TX.122, TX.04, TX.95

Embroidery refers to thread or yarn stitched to fabric for decoration. Historically, liturgical vestments were richly embroidered by hand to emphasize the solemnity of the garments' purpose.  In our collection, we have a variety of textiles with embroidery ranging from weighty metallic thread to fine, machine-made details.  

In this selection are four chasubles (gold, white, purple and red), the liturgical garment worn by the celebrating priest. All of these are examples of the "fiddleback" style. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, chasubles were heavily lined and stiffened to support the heavy embroidery. Therefore, in order to allow for better range of arm motion, the front sides were cut away, forming a fiddleback shape. 

Other embroidered vestments include:
  • a humeral veil, worn for holding the monstrance during the Exposition and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament;
  • liturgical gloves (also called episcopal or ceremonial gloves), which are reserved for bishops. They are worn only at Pontifical Mass, and then only to the washing of the hands before the Sacrifice;
  • an unusual grey-coloured stole, presumably for funerals;
  • an alb, the garment worn under the chasuble or dalmatic, with embroidered cuff details;
  • a green dalmatic, the sleeved tunic worn by celebrating deacons;
  • a gold mitre that belonged to Cardinal Carter.

nine document seals,

eight spir’tual bouquets,

seven papal bulls,

six pairs of buskins,

five golden rings,

four photographs,

three mitres,

two maniples,

and a pen used to vote at Conclave.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

On the ninth day of Christmas, ARCAT stored for me…

...nine document seals,

Seals Special Collection, DS.01, DS.05, DS.06a&b, DS.07, DS.08, DS.09, DS.10

Seals authenticate documents. Corporate seals are particularly important because they act as the signature of the corporation. (In the past, individuals were not allowed to sign off on certain corporate acts, so a seal was necessary to prove authority).  

Instead of using wax or ink, these nine seals are designed for embossing paper or foil. Embossing required two dies: one with a raised image and one that is recessed. The dies fit into each other so that when paper is pressed between them, the raised die forces the sheet into the recessed die and creates the embossed impression. The two dies are aligned and fitted to an embossing machine, such as the hand-operated clamping devices shown above.

Most of these are corporate seals that are now obsolete. Two of these are old archdiocesan seals.  The others are seals of various bishops, a parish, the Papal Visit Community Fund, the Catholic Industrial School society, and St. Mary's Hospital.
Seals Special Collection, DS.01

Example of the two dies required for embossing paper. The mirror image of the seal is carved out of the brass plate (right), and then molten zinc is cast into this recessed image to create the raised die (left). Using this technique, the plates perfectly interlock when pressed to form an impression of Archbishop Neil McNeil's seal.  The oval image features his coat of arms and the Latin words Archiepiscopus Torontinus, meaning "Archbishop of Toronto." 

eight spir’tual bouquets,

seven papal bulls,

six pairs of buskins,

five golden rings,

four photographs,

three mitres,

two maniples,

and a pen used to vote at Conclave.

Friday, 2 January 2015

On the eighth day of Christmas, ARCAT stored for me…

...eight spir’tual bouquets,

Spiritual Bouquets, POAA45.01, MGDA12.48, MGCA11.01, MGDA12.03. AF.273, AF.134

A spiritual bouquet is a card with a list of prayers and spiritual devotions that will be offered for the benefit of a particular person. These may include specific numbers of Masses, Communions, Rosaries, Visits to the Blessed Sacrament, Stations of the Cross, and Litanies, to name a few.

The cards may be given for a variety of occasions as expressions of joy, best wishes, congratulations, or sympathy. Traditionally hand-made, spiritual bouquets are often decorated with flowers as their name implies. Offering spiritual bouquets is a uniquely Roman Catholic tradition that continues today.

As these eight cards illustrate, spiritual bouquets come in all shapes and sizes and are given by individuals, religious communities and school groups. Counterclockwise from top left:

  • Spiritual bouquet for Archbishop Philip Pocock on the anniversary of his consecration, from The Separate School Children.
  • Spiritual bouquet offered to Cardinal McGuigan from a good friend for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
  • Bouquet spirituel for then Most Rev. McGuigan when he was appointed Archbishop of Regina, including 17,619 invocations and 247 Chemins de Croix.
  • "A bouquet of flowers for our new Cardinal," offered to Cardinal Ambrozic from school children.
  • A spiritual bouquet from the Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood to His Eminence Cardinal McGuigan on the 25th anniversary of his episcopal consecration.
  • A trifold spiritual bouquet for Auxiliary Bishop Francis Allen's Silver Jubilee.
  • A spiritual bouquet for new elevated Cardinal Ambrozic from school children.  Composed of individual hearts on which each student stated their choice of prayer and a good deed performed on the Cardinal's behalf.
  • From the Sisters of the Precious Blood in London, a spiritual bouquet for then Archbishop McGuigan upon his installation to the See of Toronto.

seven papal bulls,

six pairs of buskins,

five golden rings,

four photographs,

three mitres,

two maniples,

and a pen used to vote at Conclave.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

On the seventh day of Christmas, ARCAT stored for me… papal bulls,

Papal Bulls, PB.03a&b, PB.04a&b, PB.05, PB.06, PB.08,

A papal bull is a particular type of decree uniquely issued by the Pope.  The document gets its name from the attached authenticating seal, or bulla.  (Bullire means "to boil" in Latin, referring to the process of softening the metal in order for it to take the impression of the mould.) The distinctive seals are made of lead and feature the images of saints Peter and Paul on one side, and the name of the issuing pontiff on the reverse.  

All papal bulls begin with the issuing Pope's name and the Papal title episcopus servus servorum Dei, meaning "bishop, servant of the servants of God." In the unrolled bull above, the name Pius X can be seen in the top left and on the seal. Papal bulls are usually written on parchment. They can be delightfully medieval looking, with gilding and meticulously formed calligraphy.

Most of the papal bulls we have in the archives are declarations of episcopal appointments.  Four of the seven are shown in their original mailing tubes with Vatican Post issued stamps. 
Detail of the bulla (seal).

The seals are cast over the cord that is threaded through the document to authenticate it. They are made from lead. Apostles Paul and Peter, Fathers of the Church, are depicted on the left and right of the cross, respectively. The Pope's name (e.g. Pius Papa X) is on the reverse. 

six pairs of buskins,

five golden rings,

four photographs,

three mitres,

two maniples,

and a pen used to vote at Conclave.