Thursday, 26 March 2015

Record of The Week: A Cloth Shrouded in Mystery

Over the past few weeks, many parishes around the archdiocese have been hosting sindonological researcher Walter Pezzo for a reflection on the Passion of Jesus and the spiritual value of the Shroud of Turin. 

The shroud, which is believed by some to be the burial cloth of Jesus, has been the subject of study and debate especially in the last century. In 1898, a photographer named Secondo Pia was allowed to photograph the shroud while it was on display in the Turin cathedral. The photograph revealed the image of a man with wounds consistent with crucifixion. After that, the scientific and historical study of the shroud (sindonology) exploded. 

The Catholic Church does not officially recognize the shroud as authentic, but respects it as a symbol. It was recently announced that Pope Francis will make a pilgrimage to Turin to visit the shroud while it is on display in June. 

Below is a lithograph copy of Pia's photograph with a prayer in Latin which was found in the Archbishop Walsh Fonds. 

W AA03.16Archbishop Walsh Fonds
"The Holy Shroud of Our Lord Jesus Christ"

There is still one more chance to catch Mr. Pezzo's presentation at Holy Spirit Parish in Barrie on Monday, March 30th at 7:00 pm. 

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Record of the Week: the many parishes of St. Patrick

Today is St. Patrick's Day, arguably one of the most recognized feast days in popular culture.

Patrick is the patron saint and first bishop of Ireland who is celebrated for bringing Christianity to the pagan isle in the fourth century. St. Patrick's hagiography famously credits him with ridding the country of snakes and using the three-leafed shamrock to teach about the Holy Trinity. March 17th is the date of his death.

Here in the Archdiocese of Toronto, St. Patrick is the most popular parish patron with no less than eight eponymous churches. All of these parishes have roots in the nineteenth century, which is not surprising given the huge waves of Irish immigration to this area. The newcomers settled many rural villages and greatly boosted the Catholic population of Upper Canada, which necessitated the establishment of a new See - the Diocese of Toronto - in 1841.

Do you recognize these churches of St. Patrick?

Photographs Collection PH0190/02CP and Slide Collection 78 #166

St. Patrick's Parish, Wildfield (Brampton) est. 1830
11873 The Gore Road, Brampton

The first wave of Irish immigration to Upper Canada occurred in the early nineteenth century following England's annexation of Ireland in 1800. Irish settlers to the Toronto Gore area arrived in 1818. The oldest of the St. Patrick's parishes, Wildfield predates the establishment of the diocese.
The first church on the site was blessed on 27 June 1830 and the present church (left) was built in 1894.
The stained glass window over the sanctuary (right) depicts St. Patrick in his episcopal garb. In his right hand is a shamrock. There is a snake underfoot, its head pinned by the saint's crozier.

Photographs Collection PH0141/01P and Slide Collection 78 #167

St. Patrick's Mission, Markham est. 1855; Parish est. 1932

The second wave of Irish immigration followed the Great Famine of 1847.
The original site of St. Patrick's Church in Markham was on Rouge Street, in an area dubbed "Vinegar Hill" or "Little Dublin."  The wood-frame church (left) was built in 1870.  Only the cemetery remains on Rouge Street. A newer church was built in 1969 (right), relocated to Highway #7.

Photographs Collection PH0156/10P and Slide Collection 78 #168

St. Patrick's Parish, Mississauga (Dixie) est. 1856

This church was built to serve the settlers of "Irishtown" in the Dundas St. and Dixie Rd. area of Mississauga.  The brick church built in 1872 (left) was replaced by a much larger one in 1971 (right).  

Photographs Collection PH31P/227AL(13) and PH0092/20CP

St. Patrick's Parish, Toronto est. 1861

In 1867 St. Patrick’s Gothic Church was built on St. Patrick's Street in downtown Toronto. In 1908 this “Old St. Patrick’s” became Our Lady of Mount Carmel for the first Italian Congregation. Construction of the new St. Patrick's - a massive Romanesque edifice (left) - was completed the same year beside the older church. By the 1880s, the parish was administered by the Redemptorist Fathers and served many immigrant populations. In 1936, it became home to the German Congregation and then a German Personal Parish in 1981.

The three stained glass windows on the main facade (right) depict St. Patrick teaching the gathered crowds about the Holy Trinity, demonstrated by the shamrock in his left hand. 

Photographs Collection PH0172/28P

St. Patrick's Parish, Phelpston est. 1865
1600 Flos Road Four West, Phelpston

In 1965, the Phelpston parish produced a wonderful centenary souvenir book, which included a poem written by B. Baxter of Penetanguishene in 1893.  Some choice stanzas are excerpted here:

At The Opening of St. Patrick's Church 

I will tell you of a trip we took
On the seventh day of March
To the little town of Phelpston
To the opening of a Church.

When we landed at the station
We met in friendly groups
Some farmers, Scotch and Irish
And a sprinkling of Pea-soups.

Now on the opening ceremonies
I don't intend to dwell
Suffice to say that the Bishop
And priests did their parts well...

Photographs Collection PH0171/01CP and Slide Collection 78 #169

St. Patrick's Mission, Perkinsfield est. 1870; Parish est. 1908
10 County Road 6 South, Tiny

The Irish settled this area of Tiny Township starting in the 1850s.  However, they soon moved on to other farming areas as families from Quebec moved to the vicinity for cheap and fertile land.  The French Canadians, also Roman Catholic, inherited the parish and referred to their patron thenceforth as Saint-Patrique.

Photographs Collection PH0180/18P and PH0180/03CP

St. Patrick's Parish, Stayner est. 1871
215 Pine Street, Stayner

Once the Irish settlers cleared their land and built a family dwelling, their next priority was a place of worship.  It was no different in Stayner, where the pioneers built a log church in 1848.  By 1871 the increasing population of Catholics necessitated the appointment of a resident priest and the cornerstone of the current brick church was laid in 1872. 

Photographs Collection PH0179/08CP and /10CP

St. Patrick's Parish, Schomberg est. 1876
91 Church Street, Schomberg

Though established in 1876, the Schomberg parish did not have a church building for almost forty years.  Instead, Mass was celebrated in the chapel/living room of the rectory.  In 1915, the current church was finally built using bricks from the former Lloydtown Methodist church, which had closed.  The new church was relatively small compared to those of neighbouring parishes because it was built during wartime restrictions.  

And if you are feeling particularly Irish - or just craving carbohydrates - consider whipping up some Irish Bread, Irish Fruit Bread or Irish Soda Bread from this Centennial Recipe Book published by St. Patrick's Parish, Schomberg: 

Recipes for Irish Bread, Irish Fruit Bread, and Irish Soda Bread from St. Patrick's Parish, Schomberg, Centennial Recipe Book, 1876-1976.

Read more about the assimilation of Irish Catholics in a recent Toronto Star article,"19th-century Toronto Irish immigrants a lesson in upward mobility" (14 March 2015).

Friday, 13 March 2015

Wish You Were Here! Postcards in the Archives

March break, which is known as one of the busiest times of the year for travel, is almost here. Many families will be packing up and escaping the cold weather for a week. Today, it is easy for travelers to keep in touch with the folks back home. Cell phones, tablets and digital cameras make it easy to send photographs and messages, and post to services like Instagram, Tumblr, Vine, and Facebook. However, it wasn't always that easy.

Back when communication wasn't instantaneous, people had to rely on the mail to keep in touch. In the mid 1800s, postcards were introduced. They provided an easy way for tourists to send a quick note to friends and family along with a memento of their journey. ARCAT holds many examples of interesting postcards:

Monsignor Clair Fonds
"Cobb at bat, Crawford up, Leonard of Boston pitching. Detroit, Mich."
Tiger Stadium, Detroit, Michigan
ca. 1913-1918

Monsignor Clair Fonds 
MN AH04.23
"Paris - L'Eglise de la Sorbonne"
Paris, France

MN AH10.95
"Lourdes - La Grotte et la Basilique"
"I find myself here in Lourdes during my holidays. I am here now nearly two weeks and I did not forget you and the clergy on retreat last week when I said mass at this celebrated shrine. I am picking up a little French also. I am stationed at Holy Cross, Thurles, and I am returning there in a few days. I do not forget my Canadian friends here and even inadvertently still say Neil in the Canon. Begging your blessing (Rev) M. O'Brien"
Lourdes, France.

MN AH 24.68
Albright Art Gallery, Buffalo, N.Y.

"Am quite at home in this city. Go from here to Adrianople when it falls. Kind remebrances to his Grace the Dr. and Pére Canning Morrow. Prier pour moi." 
Sofia, Bulgaria
This postcard was written from Sofia during the First Balkan War. The writer may be referring to the Siege of Adrianople.

Agincourt, Ontario (present day Scarborough)


Fr. Joseph Murphy First Communion Class
ca. 1912

Pope Pius XI - Souvenir of the Holy Year 1925

"I wonder when Flo & I will get down or when you will get up again. So near & yet so far. I've had my uncle Theo from Vancouver here all Fall & been pretty well rushed. Lil & family are coming down for xmas - 3 small boys & a baby girl. - I send best wishes - with love - C.H.S.

'Member the Sunday we were here to listen to the new organ?"
St. John Chrysostom Church, Newmarket, Ontario
These cards show us the places and events that were important in the lives of the people who sent them and collected them. The writers had to be brief and efficient with their words (Twitter, anyone?) to get their point across. They were a way to share a moment in time with the people who couldn't be there; we are lucky enough to be able to share the same moment a hundred years later.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Record of the Week: Members of the Legion of Mary

Tomorrow is International Women's Day.

Let's acknowledge all the women who enrich the work of the Church: women religious; members of lay associations and apostolates (see photos below); those who aim to fulfill their vocations as single women or married women.

Photographs Collection PH32L/02P
Photograph of a Mass for the women members of the Legion of Mary at St. Patrick's Parish, Toronto, ca. 1950s

Photographs Collection PH32L/01P
Photograph of a Mass for the women members of the Legion of Maryat St. Patrick's Parish, Torontoca. 1950s

In Pope Francis' first apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (“The Joy of the Gospel”), the pontiff commented on women in the church:
103. The Church acknowledges the indispensable contribution which women make to society through the sensitivity, intuition and other distinctive skill sets which they, more than men, tend to possess. I think, for example, of the special concern which women show to others, which finds a particular, even if not exclusive, expression in motherhood. I readily acknowledge that many women share pastoral responsibilities with priests, helping to guide people, families and groups and offering new contributions to theological reflection. But we need to create still broader opportunities for a more incisive female presence in the Church. Because “the feminine genius is needed in all expressions in the life of society, the presence of women must also be guaranteed in the workplace”[72] and in the various other settings where important decisions are made, both in the Church and in social structures.