Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Mirror of the Cross

A Crucifix hangs high on the back wall of St. John's Chapel in St. Michael's Cathedral.

Christ who is your life is hanging before you, so that you may look at the Cross as in a mirror...If you look closely, you will be able to realize how great your human dignity and your value are....Nowhere other than looking at himself in the mirror of the Cross can a man better understand how much he is worth.  
                           – St. Anthony of Padua

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Martyrdom of Saints Peter and Paul

Corner of the foundation of St. Michael's Cathedral.

O God, who didst hallow this day by the martyrdom of thine holy Apostles Peter and Paul, grant unto thy Church, whose foundations thou wast pleased to lay by their hands, the grace always in all things to remain faithful to their teaching.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Cor Jesu Amore Flagrans

The upper arch of the altar to the Sacred Heart in St. Michael's Cathedral. At centre is the heart of Jesus burning with charity.

Devotion to the Sacred Heart is the most excellent form of religion. 
                                  - Pope Leo XIII

Friday, June 25, 2010

Jesus Meets His Mother

The fourth station of the Cross at St. Michael's Cathedral.

My most loving Jesus, by the sorrow Thou didst experience in this meeting, grant me the grace of a truly devoted love for Thy most holy Mother. And thou, my Queen, who wast overwhelmed with sorrow, obtain for me by thy intercession a continual and tender remembrance of the Passion of thy Son...  
                       - St. Alphonsus Liguori

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Bride and bridegroom share a kiss at St. Michael's Cathedral. Photo by the terrific Taylor Jackson.

The future Pope Pius X visited his 70-year-old mother after his Episcopal consecration.  She kissed his Episcopal ring and showed him her own simple wedding ring: Yes, Giuseppe, you would not be wearing that ring had I not first worn mine.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Under Her Shadow

A detail in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the Vaclav Vaca mural at the Lady altar of St. Michael's Cathedral.

Am I not here, I, who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not the source of your joy? Are you not in the hollow of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms? Do you need anything more?    
  - Our Lady of Guadalupe to Bl. Juan Diego

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


The throne of the first Archbishop of Toronto, His Grace, John Lynch (d.1888) is in St. John's Chapel at St. Michael's Cathedral.

The bishops have by divine institution taken the place of the apostles as pastors of the Church, in such wise that whoever listens to them is listening to Christ and whoever despises them despises Christ and Him who sent Christ.     
                – Lumen gentium 20.2

Monday, June 21, 2010


A snapshot of the front courtyard of St. Michael's Cathedral taken from the curb where the beggars sit.

 O rich people, befriend...the poor, welcome them into your homes: it will subsequently be they who receive you in the eternal tabernacles in which is the beauty of peace, the confidence of security and the opulent tranquility of eternal satiety.  
                             – St. Anthony of Padua

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Fathers and Sons

Fathers stand to receive a special blessing for Fathers' Day in St. Michael's Cathedral.

Out of the darkness of my life, so much frustrated, I put before you the one great thing to love on earth: the Blessed Sacrament. There you will find romance, glory, honour, fidelity, and the true way of all your loves on earth…by…which alone can what you seek in your earthly relationships (love, faithfulness, joy) be maintained, and take on that complexion of reality of eternal endurance, which every man’s heart desires.  
  – J.R.R. Tolkien to his son Christopher

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Like a Light Behind a Glass

Poster congratulating the new diocesan priests hangs in the narthex of St. Michael's Cathedral.

The Year of the Priest ends today (June 19th). 

The priest speaks two words, and Our Lord comes down from Heaven at his voice, and shuts Himself up in a little Host. God looks upon the altar. “That is My well-beloved Son, ” He says, “in whom I am well-pleased. ” He can refuse nothing to the merits of the offering of this Victim. If we had faith, we should see God hidden in the priest like a light behind a glass, like wine mingled with water.  
                             – St. Jean Vianney

Friday, June 18, 2010

Mea Culpa

A pillar supporting the choir loft of St. Michael's Cathedral.

Don’t be mad.  Nobody lied to you.  The pillars which (barely) support the choir loft also have a little bit of red and blue paint.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

St. Paulinus on the Brevity of This Life

St. Paulinus, Archbishop of York, on the pillar beside the main doors of St. Michael's Cathedral.

This is how the present life of man on Earth...appears to me... You are sitting winter time. The fire is burning on the hearth in the middle of the hall and all inside is warm, while outside the wintry storms of rain and snow are raging - and a sparrow flies swiftly through the hall. It enters in at one door and quickly flies out through the other. For the few moments it is inside, the storm and wintry tempest cannot touch it, but after the briefest moment of calm, it flits from your sight, out of the wintry storm and into it again. So this life of man appears but for a moment.   
            – St. Paulinus, Archbishop of York

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Passion Flower

Detail of stained glass window depicting passion flowers in St. Michael's Cathedral.

The passion flower is a particularly apt decoration for this window, dedicated as it is to the Institution of the Eucharist.

The passion flower’s three bracts suggest the Holy Trinity; its corona filaments, the Crown of Thorns; its stigma, the three nails and the column at which Our Lord was scourged. The five blood-coloured stamen symbolize the five wounds; the pointed leaves, St. Longinus’ spear; the round spots on their undersides, the 30 pieces of silver.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Cross Exemplifies Every Virtue

A panel of the painted ceiling of St. Michael's Cathedral.

...the passion of Christ completely suffices to fashion our lives. Whoever wishes to live perfectly should do nothing but disdain what Christ disdained on the cross and desire what he desired, for the cross exemplifies every virtue.              – St. Thomas Aquinas

Monday, June 14, 2010

Grave of Bishop Power

The grave of Bishop Michael Power in the basement crypt of St. Michael's Cathedral.

The stone reads:

Primus Episcopus
Torontinus Obdormivit
In Domino 1° Octobris

Bishop Power was the first Bishop of Toronto, oversaw the construction of St. Michael’s Cathedral (laying its cornerstone in 1845), and died of typhus while caring for sick and poor Irish immigrants who had fled to Canada during the Great Irish Famine.

Teach us, Good Lord... to give and not to count the cost...                    
                                               - St. Ignatius of Loyola

Sunday, June 13, 2010

St. Anthony's Psalter

A detail of the book which the statue of St. Anthony holds in St. Michael's Cathedral.

Ever wonder why he’s frequently pictured with a book and associated with the return of lost or stolen objects?  His prayerful intercession caused the return of a wayward novice (who had departed religious life as a thief, having stolen St. Anthony’s own Psalter!).  The novice and the book, which is preserved in the Franciscan friary in Bologna, miraculously came back to St. Anthony.

St. Anthony of Padua, pray for us who remember you on your feast day.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Sacred Heart of Jesus - Proof of God's Kindness

Detail of the stained glass window in the narthex of St. Michael's Cathedral depicting Jesus and His Sacred Heart.

Among the many proofs of the boundless benignity of our Redeemer, there is one that stands out conspicuously, to wit the fact that when the charity of Christian people was growing cold, the Divine Charity itself was set forth to be honored by a special worship, and the riches of its bounty was made widely manifest by that form of devotion wherein worship is given to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, "In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Coloss. ii, 3).  
                          – Pope Pius XI

Does your heart grow cold?  Flee to that burning furnace of charity today on His feast.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

St. Thomas the Believer

Statue of St. Thomas (the Apostle, a.k.a. Doubting Thomas) at the Sacred Heart altar in St. Michael's Cathedral.

And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them. Jesus cometh, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said: Peace be to you. Then he saith to Thomas: Put in thy finger hither, and see my hands; and bring hither thy hand, and put it into my side; and be not faithless, but believing.  

Thomas answered, and said to him: My Lord, and my God.
                                - John 20: 26-29

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Ancients on Daring to Depict St. Michael the Archangel

This painting of St. Michael the Archangel by Vaclav Vaca hangs at the back of the nave of St. Michael's Cathedral.  N.B. this is not from the mural at the Lady altar by the same artist.

Thou hast little Latin and less Greek?  Not to worry, it happens.  Read it in translation here: Palatine Anthology 33.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Coat of Arms

The Coat of Arms of the Archdiocese of Toronto is painted above the doors leading from the narthex to the nave in St. Michael's Cathedral.

The double cross and green galero hat with ten tassels indicate that the holder is an archdiocese.

The Latin motto of the archdiocese Quis ut Deus is a translation of Mich-a-ël, the name of the Archangel which means “who is like unto God”.

The colours red and white represent Canada. Across the shield is placed the spear of St. Michael, the patron of the diocese. His spear overcomes the Dragon’s head, symbolic of the Devil. The shaft has at its upper end a cross and attached are three gold maple leaves, a symbolic reference to the Province of Ontario.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Our Lady Seat of Wisdom

Detail of mural by Vaclav Vaca at the Lady altar in St. Michael's Cathedral. Our Lady became (by supporting Jesus in her womb and later her arms and lap) a kind of throne for Wisdom Himself.

His Throne, thy bosom blest,
O Mother Undefiled –
That throne, if aught beneath the skies,
Beseems the Sinless Child.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Corpus Christi

A stained glass window in St. John's chapel at St. Michael's Cathedral depicting at its center the consecrated Host and the chalice containing the Precious Blood.

The veil of mystery has been torn asunder.  He is there, my God, infinite Unity, adorable Trinity, under the appearance of a small piece of bread.  Jesus is there, in His sacred Humanity, His Heart, His Precious Blood, His Soul, His eternal Divinity; He is there, whole and entire, in each Host consecrated throughout the world and in each fragment of consecrated Host.    
                                 – Bl. Dina Belanger

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Mystery Solved

A week and a half ago there appeared on either side of the chancel window (above the reredos) in St. Michael's Cathedral these large mysterious items.  They are draped in maroon veils (the same colour as the wall) and hanging from small black crosses.  I have tinkered with the colour levels in the above photo to make them more visible, hence the graininess.

They are new speakers for the organ.

Friday, June 4, 2010


A lion gargoyle downspout on the exterior of St. Michael's Cathedral.

Be sober and watch: because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour.  – 1 Peter 5:8

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Real Men Pray the Rosary

A parishioner of St. Michael's Cathedral holds his Rosary in the subway after daily Mass.

I pray you urgently, by the love I bear you in Jesus and Mary, not to content yourselves with saying the Little Crown of the Blessed Virgin, but to say five decades, or even, if you have time, fifteen decades of the Rosary every day. At the moment of your death you will bless the day and the hour in which you followed my advice…   
                        –  St. Louis Marie de Montfort

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Guardians of Purity, Unselfishness, and Piety

Two sweet sisters leave St. Michael's Cathedral amid the faithful after Mass.

Especially you, consecrated virgins, in a world where egoism and the search for pleasure would become law, be the guardians of purity, unselfishness, and piety. Jesus, who has given to conjugal love all its plentitudes, has also exalted the renouncement of human love when this is for the sake of divine love and for the service of all.  
        - Closing Messages of the Council, 1965.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Behold Thy Mother (Jn. 19:27)

Statue of Mary in a high niche in the narthex of St. Michael's Cathedral.

With your substance you have fed that same Jesus who every day gives me life, your life, O Mary, that very life which He owes you.  Every drop of His blood you gave Him so that it should be mine.  With your virgin milk you fed Him so that He might die on the Cross and open the gates of heaven for me.  My beloved Mother, it is to you, then, that I owe the happiness which I enjoy in contemplating Him.  
    – Servant of God, Concepcion Cabrera de Armida