Thursday, December 03, 2009

Our Lady Immaculate Cathedral

The Church of Our Lady Immaculate was the most awe inspiring, special, and unexpected surprise of the day for us, when friends we were traveling with posed the spontaneous suggestion to detour for a moment and make a "visit" to this spectacular and grand Cathedral.

It seems over the past eighteen months of so, our family's travels have included lucky chance visits inside of Cathedrals, Historical churches, Oratories, Shrines and even Basilicas, all incredibly surreal experiences and exquisitely unique to stumble upon, quite literally at that.

Our road trip took us to "Guelph, Ontario" to fetch and bring our friend's college boy out for his birthday dinner. A few of his companions and were also along for a guy time at the end of the dining table.

This past summer our son was with two of these young men when they took a short road trip together with personal belongings in tow, moving into their rooms before the beginning of a new school year. Our son was invited along for the ride as they would be returning back to the area that same night.

Along the way, these guys detoured towards this same Cathedral, and they too opted to have a "visit" to the Blessed Sacrament, on purpose.

When our son realized he had my former camera on hand, many photos were snapped to show us later on when he returned home again, an awe struck individual for certain as he had not yet been to a mighty Cathedral such as this one.

Our friends mentioned the history of the Cathedral, the third church to be built on this same land. The original church was named St. Patrick's, built in 1835, followed by St. Bartholemew's church in 1846. They were located on the highest point in the city, right smack today in the center of town.

Fires had consumed and destroyed the original church, and the death of the famed local artisan who carved much of the exterior of the church marred the outcome of today's Cathedral building deadline, only completed almost fifty years later, dedicated along the way to "Our Lady Immaculate".

The twin towers which rise to a height of over 200 feet, were not complete until 1926. Scaffolding was set up around the church, present while we were visiting, a sign of its long awaited and progressive restoration project since the spring of 2007.

My friend's mother lived for a time in the building shown above to the left, a convent, to spend time discerning a vocation as a nun. After a while, she discovered she was mistaken, and soon she met my friend's father, her future husband. They were married in this same Cathedral almost 60 years ago, so obvious to me this Cathedral has a special place in this family's hearts.

"Behold the Lamb of God"

The Cathedral was to be the most unique of its kind, a church the original town discoverer announced would rival St. Peter's in Rome.

So precious is this church still today that the city of Guelph has zoning bylaws established "protected view areas" to ensure a clear sight lines to the church from various vantage points in the downtown core. Even communication towers shall not obscure the view of the church.

The many alcoves noted at the back of the altar on the right side of the building in the photo above are frequented by priests all over the area, those traveling through may use them to say their daily mass.

As I mentioned in my last "Ten things I'm thankful for" post, we were a bit disappointed to round the corner toward the front doors only to note a wedding was in progress inside the Cathedral.

This Rolls Royce automobile's driver was on standby, awaiting the newly married couple when they would exit the church declared as man and wife, and their wedding was complete.

It was quite touching to see just how full of life the couple was when we did enter the doors and stand discreetly inside for a few moments.

The first thing I noticed was the huge concrete holy water font in between the interior second set of doors. I just had to snap this photo with the stained glass surround nearby.

A Gothic style of architecture permeated throughout the interior, obvious design features stuck out for all of us soon after walking across the threshold area into the vestibule.

The angels high above each side of the doors were heavenly, greeting visitors and parishioners no doubt each time they returned here.

The altar was golden and very ornate. Various icons were notable instantly underneath of the stained glass windows atop of the huge altar, the icons filling the circular areas with their beauty.

Instant reverence was the mood setting for those of us having our wee visit this day. We never wished to disturb this wedding ceremony for one second. Rather we all crossed and blessed ourselves, offered up prayer petitions and moseyed about where we could quietly wander.

One could hear a pin drop, I just know it. Not even my camera dared make any noise, so I am pleased the photos turned out as good as they did, except of course the one above when I was bumped in to for a brief moment and it turned out all blurry.

All were silently and most definitely lost in our own personal thoughts. It was very touching to be together and yet offer space to one another as we processed and absorbed our surroundings.

There is never a shortage of holy reminders within a the grandeur of a church such as this one, always a cause for instant reverence and the insatiable desire to fall upon bended knee within such a blessed and holy place.

Salvation history surrounded us, yes, even in the back of the church where the photos above and below winked at me to notice them more clearly.

Notice the sun's rays sneaking through the stained glass below at just the right spot to catch my attention? Oh yes, it caught me alright. Loved it there...

Prayer before a Crucifix

Behold, O good and sweetest Jesus,
I cast myself upon my knees in Thy sight,
and with the most fervent desire of my soul
I pray and beseech Thee
to impress upon my heart
lively sentiments of faith,
hope and charity,
with true repentance for my sins
and a most firm desire of amendment.
Whilst with deep affection and grief of soul
I consider within myself
and mentally contemplate
Thy five most precious wounds,
having before mine eyes that which David,
the prophet, long ago spoke concerning Thee,
“They have pierced My hands and My feet,
they have numbered all My bones.