Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Unfortunate wreckovation of one of Toronto's finest churches - Holy Rosary

St. Mary the Virgin, Huntingdonshire
The recent dust-up over Cardinal Sarah's comments about the already presumed Roman Missal's instruction to celebrate Mass "ad orientem," has reminded me of what we have lost in most Toronto Churches. In many churches, particularly newer ones, the altar is too close to the step to celebrate "ad orientem" in the modernist liturgy. The glorious high altars are mostly gone, yet; in a few churches around Toronto, they still survive.

Alas, Holy Rosary is not one of them. Holy Rosary Catholic Church is on St. Clair Avenue West, near Bathurst Street. It is around the corner from the Basilian owned, St. Michael's College, a private high school for boys. 

There is an interesting fact about Holy Rosary. It is a near replica, though still without the unfinished tower, of the 15th century Church of St. Mary the Virgin in the Parish of St. Neot's, in Huntingdonshire in the Diocese of Ely. The parish was originally founded in the late 1100's and is now, of course, under the Anglican "Church."

Holy Rosary Church
Holy Rosary, Toronto
Renovated rectory and kitchen

Until recently, it was staffed by priests of the Congregation of St. Basil. As that religious congregation continues to decline, their responsibilities in Toronto where they once ruled Catholic education, are coming to a quick end. They have only St. Michael's University and St. Basil's Church left and in 25 years, there won't be a Basilian young enough to get out of a walker to manage. 

Holy Rosary Parish now has a diocesan priest as Pastor, a Monsignor and former Rector of St. Augustine's Seminary in Toronto, who has, thanks to the previous occupants, inherited a rectory kitchen that would be the envy of most of the rest of the upper crust neighbourhood and is a scandal to those that had to pay the bill.

Hardly an example to set in the new Church of the Peripheries, but one imagines, in the peripheries of Forest Hill, it just fits right in. A luxurious rectory kitchen to match the smell sheep there and a unique historical church stuck in a 1970's liturgical distortion and diabolical disorientation.

We went too far

It was "wreckovated" under the watchful eye of the late Bishop Pearce Lacey of Toronto. He was described to me by a senior Toronto priest as "ruthless" when it came to implementing the non-existent "orders" of the Second Vatican Council to destroy Catholic Church sanctuaries. Bishop Lacey told me himself at the age of 92, "I think we went too far," causing me to recall that erudite British comedy to reply,"Yes, Excellency."

Holy Rosary was the only Church in Toronto and maybe in Ontario to have been constructed with a full Rood. It extended from the communion rail to the Crucifixion at the top and still exists at the two side chapels. The crucifixion scene remains but the rail and the screen are long gone but survive, decaying on a dirt floor in part of the basement, perhaps one day to be restored by a future faithful pastor. The high altar that had upon its mensa, the Tabernacle of God has been replaced by the Seat of the Presider - the exalted priest in place of the High Priest. Such clericalism. Such Masonic infiltration. They took this holy space devoted to the worship of God and turned it into a masonic lodge layout to the glory of man. 

The Chair of Man supplants Christ the King
I wonder, do the people know that the marble frieze on the wall of the Lady Chapel is actually the frontal from the marble high altar? Has the rest been used as parking curbs as happened in many places.? 

Lady Chapel with the former altar frontal as a souvenir on the wall

This great work of history and architectural art for the Glory of God is not beyond restoration. This abomination of a Masonic Lodge "sanctuary" could be restored to God and right Catholic worship. The rood exists, rotting away. The altar frontal, now a pointless frieze, could be restored. The masonic chair of man replaced by the Rightful and High Priest, Christ the King. The Mass in this glorious edifice once again be celebrated properly, all turned to God to the sung prayer of Gregorian chant in right worship as was intended in this place. The Mass celebrated according to the Missal in place at the time of this construction.

The financial resources to fix this wreckovation are there, particularly if one can justify a six figure kitchen.

The question is, "is the will, the vision and faith there to do it?


Sixupman said...

I would love to have seen a picture of the [infamous] kitchen!

That aside: when travelling in both France and Italy and visiting ancient [500 plus year old] chapels, I was often faced with a notice - "re-ordered in accordance with the requirements of The Second Vatican Council" - amused not!

I have recently encountered, in Manchester UK, a re-re-ordered church exactly in line with +++Sarah's recommendations. The situation is also reflected in the deportment of the congregation and the presence of altar boys in immaculately laundered and pressed vestments.

Brian said...


Yes the iconoclastic frenzy of this gilded age of Modernism. It has given us the likes of Jorge Bergoglio.

Anonymous said...

Is there any chance the church could be turned over to a traditional order in the coming years? Or at least a traditional-leaning pastor who could start de-wreckovating it and introduce some occasional TLMs?

Anonymous said...