5 August 2008

A Few Survivors

This post has its genesis in a web trawl I did today, when I found this photographer's site in which he has a few beautiful pictures of old altars in Toronto and the surrounding areas.

We often hear of beautiful old churches that went through horrendous renovations. What we don't hear of so often are of the churches that weren't. My neck of the woods isn't exactly known for its beautiful churches, but there are a few within the diocese and its neighbouring areas that are quite beautiful.

(For the sake of copyright and all that, the first two churches were photographed by Dan Cardoso, from the site mentioned up above. The last two were taken from the Hamilton diocese website. Click to enlarge)

The first is St Mary's down on Bathurst, near King. According to the diocese website, the current building dates from the 1880's, and was designed by the same architect who did St Paul's Basilica over on Queen. It was an important place of worship for many years, and is now home to a Portuguese congregation.

The next is St Mary of the Angel's in Guelph. Another beautiful church, it is mostly famous on the Internet now for narrowly avoiding a renovation under the direction of Richard Vosko. This link tells the story of how the congregation banded together, and managed to put an end to the planned renovation.

The carpet needs to go.

Next is the high altar and baldachino of my father's old church, Christ the King in Hamilton. When the Bishop of the time began to build this church he declared "We shall have the finest church in Canada," and he took a fair run at the target. Dad served as an altar boy here for a few years. I believe that this church was forever his home church in his heart. The parish website has a virtual tour of the cathedral which has many excellent photographs of this beautiful church, including it's spectacular windows.

The last is another St Mary's, also in Hamilton. This church has the distinction of being the pro-cathedral, meaning it once served as the cathedral until Christ the King was built in 1933. The photograph is a little grainy, but it still gives an impression of the beauty of the altar. Like it's fellow St Mary's in Toronto, this one is also home to a Portuguese congregation.

So while much was destroyed, not everything was lost. There is still beauty out there, even in some unexpected and sometimes surprising places, which only serves to enhance the beauty when it is found.

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