A Tour of Our Cathedral
OUR SANCTUARY, PRAYER SHRINES and WAY OF THE CROSS
OUR SANCTUARY AND ALTAR AREA
Together with the stained glass windows which honour the Apostles and other Leaders of our Faith, the focal points of our Sanctuary are: the Altar of Sacrifice, the Ambo (pulpit), the Tabernacle, a large devotional Crucifix and the Bishop’s ‘Cathedra’ or Chair.
During the Season of Lent, violet banners and cloths adorn this entire sacred space. On Passion Sunday and during Holy Week, vibrant red banners are placed in front of the Crucifix to hide it from view. Throughout the Easter Season, golden banners and a life-sized painting of the Risen Christ are positioned in the centre of the reredos to cover the Crucifix. Golden yellow banners also decorate the altar, the ambo and the nave of the Church to celebrate the joyful Solemnity of the Resurrection.
The engravings on our richly decorated Tabernacle add to the beauty of this sacred fixture and teach us about its theological significance and its historical roots. Above the Tabernacle’s doors the word, ‘Sanctus’ (Holy) is engraved three times to remind us of the sacred nature of the contents of this central fixture, the Real Presence of Christ. The two angel figures engraved on our Tabernacle doors remind us of the two angel statues which were placed by the Israelities on top of the Ark of the Covenant. The Israelites believed that when the Ark of the Covenant was present in a community, God became truly present among His people there. For us, the Eucharist which is housed within the Tabernacle, makes God’s Son present to us. The angels are engraved upon our Christian ‘Ark of the Covenant’ to symbolically ‘guard’ its sacred contents just as they guarded the contents of the Jewish Ark. Finally, also engraved on the doors are gothic arches which remind us of the sacred nature of this vessel along with vines which symbolize the consecrated wine and crosses which recall the Precious Blood of Christ shed for us on Calvary’s Cross.
Photograph by Erick Villanueva
OUR PATRONAL SAINTS SHRINES
Located on either side of the Sanctuary are Shrines designed to honour our two principle Patrons. Our Lady is the is the Patroness of the Diocese of Thunder Bay. St. Patrick is its secondary Patron of the Diocese and the principle Patron of our Parish. The richly decorated sacred images which adorn these shrines are carved in linden wood and were imported from Italy.
OUR STATIONS OF THE CROSS IN THE NAVE OF THE CHURCH
These 14 large bronzed reliefs which depict the events of the Lord’s Passion and Death adorn both walls of the nave of the Church. Some show wear from the many years of the veneration of the Faithful.
OUR CHAPELS and PRAYER SHRINES
These sacred spaces found both within and outside the Cathedral are designed to encourage personal reflection, private prayer, spiritual growth and Sacramental Reconciliation.
THE CHAPEL OF OUR LADY
Mary, the Mother of Christ and the Mother of the Church holds a special place of honour in salvation history. For this reason Catholics and members of many other Christian denominations throughout the world often dedicate chapels and shrines to her within their places of worship. The Cathedral’s Chapel of Our Lady is our own sacred space dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. This place of liturgy and prayer was completely redecorated and blessed in 2004 by Bishop Colli. It is separated from the nave of the church by glass walls and has a seating capacity of 60. The marble crucifix over the altar had once been the main crucifix in the Cathedral’s Sanctuary. The Chapel artifacts depict different culturally based versions of the Blessed Mother of God. A Eucharistic theme is featured in the three stained glass windows which illuminate this Special Chapel.
THE MEMORIAL CHAPEL OF THE PIETA’
This life sized replica of Michelangelo’s universally renowned Pietà in our Memorial Chapel evokes compassion in its depiction of the Virgin Mary grieving over the death of her Son. In this sacred space we are invited to remember and to pray for all the deceased members of our Parish family who have gone before us and whose names are found written here in our four ‘Books of Life’. In this life, they worshiped and praised God with us in Faith. In eternal life, they continue to be an important part of our Parish Community as they pray for us.
THE CHAPELS OF MERCY AND FORGIVENESS
Two of the Chapels are dedicated to Christ’s saving mercy. Images of the Crucfixion scene and of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and reproductions of the Divine Mercy of Christ and of Rembrandt’s ‘Return of the Prodigal Son’ illustrate Christ’s forgiving love and compassion for us.
THE CHAPELS OF THE ROOTS OF FAITH IN CANADA
St. Joseph, Canada’s Patron, St. Ann, Canada’s secondary Patron and St. Kateri Tekakwitha, the first Indigenous North American to be declared a Saint, are all depicted in our two ‘Faith in Canada’ Chapels.
THE CHAPELS OF PRAYER, LOVE, GRACE AND CHARITY
Christian Charity is the theme of our last two side Chapels. Images of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and of Guadalupe and the Eastern Icon of Our Lady of Divine Graces are venerated in one of the Chapels. In front of the window hangs the richly decorated stained glass window of the Annunciation.
In the other Chapel, the images of St. Anthony of Padova, the charitable ‘Saint of the poor’, and of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, the champion of prayer and charity are venerated.
THE PRAYER SPACE DEDICATED TO THE HOLY CANADIAN MARTYRS
On the wall, near the Donald Street entrance to the Cathedral, a special Prayer space has been prepared to remind our people of the Jesuit Fathers and brothers who brought the Word of God to Canada and who first preached the Gospel in Northwestern Ontario.
OUR CHAPELS OF RECONCILIATION
Our two newly constructed areas for private Confessions are located in the side prayer chapels of the Crucifixion scene and of St. Joseph. Both are brightly lit spaces enclosed by frosted glass walls and a glass door. Each is furnished with a kneeler and curtain for anonymity and with a chair and a small table for those who prefer to confess face-to-face with the Confessor.
OUR CHILDREN’S CHAPEL
A beautiful statue of Jesus and Mary and the Children of the world is the focal point of our Children’s Chapel, located to the left and adjacent to the Sanctuary and Altar area of the Cathedral
Photograph by Vijo Chittilapilly
THE HOLY FAMILY GARDEN AND SHRINE
This beautiful prayer shrine which is located adjacent to the Cathedral, celebrates family values and inspires reflection and prayer. It is complete with a gazebo, a prayer labrynth and granite benches. The statues of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Holy Family and St. Anthony of Padova are also displayed in this beautiful green space filled with trees, shrubs and flowers. It was made possible through the donation of our parishioner, the late John Martinuzzi, given in memory of his parents.
OUR CHRISTIAN MEDITATION PRAYER GARDEN
This tranquil corner, conducive to personal prayer and reflection, is located beside our Garden Shrine. This sacred outdoor space was conceived and developed by the members of our Christian Meditation Prayer Group. All are welcome to spend time in personal and private prayer in this quiet corner.
OUR CATHEDRAL’S PARK FLOWER GARDEN
This beautiful park and flower garden which is located across the street from the Church and which belongs to the Cathedral, is occasionally used for Liturgical Prayer and/or festivities. Our parishioners David Ronchi and Cheryl De Lorenzi (in one of the pictures above) volunteer their time talent and work in preparing and planting the many flowers that beautify the space.
OUR FAITH REFLECTED IN PANES OF STAINED GLASS
Most of the windows in the Cathedral were designed and created by the renowned Canadian artist, Russell Goodman. Also numbered among his many works of art throughout Canada are the windows in the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa. The other more traditional windows were recovered from the old St. Patrick’s Church and re-installed in our new Cathedral in 1963.
THE HISTORY AND THANKSGIVING WINDOW
In gratitude to God for his artistic talent, Mr. Goodman left us inspiring words on the eighth window in what is now the Pietà Memorial Chapel. This ‘history’ window depicts the old Church of St. Patrick and the coat of arms of Bishop E. Q. Jennings, our first Bishop and the builder of our present Cathedral. In his dedication script at the bottom of this window which the artist donated to the Cathedral, we read these memorable and inspiring words : “Praise to God for the skills he lends to human minds and hands”.
THE NARTHEX WINDOW OF OUR PATRON SAINT
Our largest window forms the wall over the Cathedral’s main entrance and recounts the events in the life of our Patron, Saint Patrick which contributed to the conversion of Ireland to the Christian Faith. The prominent green shamrock which surrounds the image of Patrick reminds us of the visual example he used to explain the Blessed Trinity to the Druids. It continues to be associated with the Saint to this day. The window also depicts seven red flames along its edges. These remind us of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit which inspired and strengthened Patrick in his mission. Clustered around the central image are various lived moments in the Saint’s life and missionary activity.
THE CHOIR LOFT WINDOWS
Two windows found in the Choir Loft contain Scriptural texts from the New Testament. One reminds us that Love is the greatest of the 3 virtues. The other is a quote from Christ’s unity prayer that “all may be one”.
THE SANCTUARY WINDOWS OF OUR FAITH LEADERS
Besides the 12 Apostles, these windows pay tribute to four other leaders of the early Christian Church: St. John the Baptist, St. Paul and the Gospel Writers, Saint Mark and Saint Luke.