Pilgrimage to St. Peters!

A few days ago the Sisters celebrated the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter! Here is a little bit of information about this feast day:

The Feast of St. Peter helps us to remember how Christ conferred a special mission upon St. Peter and upon every pope after him. We celebrate how the Church is united upon the apostle Peter. In Matthew 16:19 Jesus gives Peter the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven.

What do these keys represent? They signify the power of order, power of jurisdiction, and the power to define in questions of faith and morals. This feast has been celebrated from the early days of the Christian era on the 18th of January (and now is celebrated on 22nd of February), remembering the day when St. Peter held his first service in Rome.

An interesting note: there is a physical chair believed to be used by St. Peter and it is preserved in the Vatican.

In honour of the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, the Formation Sisters went on a pilgrimage to St. Peter’s Cathedral Basilica and St. Peter’s Seminary in London, Ontario!  The Sisters offered their prayers for the needs of the Church, for the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, and for the upcoming conclave to elect our new Pope. The Sisters sang a piece of chant at the cathedral in honour of our Holy Father called Christus Vincit.

The Sisters on the steps of St. Peter's Cathedral Basilica

Praying before Our Lord

We started at St. Peter’s Cathedral Basilica which was very beautiful.  Some interesting facts about St. Peter’s Cathedral:

  • It was built between 1800 and 1885 under the leadership of Bishop John Walsh.
  • Architecture style is 13th century French Gothic. The material is red sandstone with limestone facings. The original slate roof was replaced in 2003.
  • The towers, stained glass and interior decoration were not complete at this time, and were finished in stages. The first stained glass windows were installed in 1889. The remaining windows were completed, together with the Stations of the Cross and the paintings in 1926.
  • There are twelve bells that make up the Carillon, and each bell is named after one of the twelve Apostles. Each bell is inscribed with a saints name and a holy verse.

The cathedral floor plan is in the shape of a cross seen from the sky: the sanctuary being the top of the cross, the Narthex, or vestibule, being the bottom of the cross and the West and East Transepts the horizontal beam of the cross.  The towers outside were intended to have tall spires like many of the magnificent Gothic Churches in Europe.  When one walks up to the front, it is breathtaking to see the intricate details on the facade with high arching window frames and three doorways surrounded by arches that are supported by columns.

The columns inside numbered eight along the nave made out of marble which supported towering arches that adorned the side corridors and symmetrically led the eyes to the high-arched ceiling.  Such a visual journey guided our thoughts and hearts to God’s magnificent glory.  Upon approaching the beautiful sanctuary, one may pay a visit to the Blessed Sacrament on the West side in the Christ the King Altar, (the original altar from 1852), and be inspired by the beautiful art surrounding it.

Our Lord present in the tabernacle

Architecture in the Cathedral

 

The main altar

The cathedral is lined with stained glass windows, each with significance. At the narthex, all stained glass windows depict scenes from the Old Testament, such as the sacrifice of Abraham, and the offerings of Cain and Abel.

Cain and Abel

As you move up the church there are windows on the upper level of the saints; behind the sanctuary are windows of the New Testament. To the left of the Altar, at the West Transept, stand three tall windows depicting the 12 Apostles, and the 12 articles of the Apostles Creed.

The twelve apostles

On the other side of the altar, at the East Transept are 3 windows containing four doctors of the western church, and four doctors of the eastern church, along with a harp and shamrock which are the symbols of the Irish roots of the diocese.

"Feed My sheep"

From the Cathedral, we continued on to St. Peter’s Seminary.

St. Peter's Seminary

The Sisters browsed the halls on which were hung photos of all the priests ordained there since its foundation in 1912. The sisters visited the library and were impressed by the size of it, containing a large selection of books on every topic pertaining to the faith.

There were also many very old books, perhaps 100 years old or so.  There was a great statue of St. Francis de Sales.

St. Francis de Sales statue

From the library we went to the chapel… we wanted to save the best for last! We were so blessed to be able to spend more time with Jesus here. Each Sisters said that this time in the Chapel was the best part of the pilgrimage because it is so beautiful that it instantly raises your heart and mind to God.

The altar in the chapel of St. Peter's Seminary

The upper walls were lined with stained glass windows depicting the doctors of the church up until 1926. The carvings and wood work were incredible. As one walks in, these pews were set in two choirs on each side of the chapel facing each other having the Sanctuary with the Blessed Sacrament in the back of the chapel located to to the right or left hand of the choirs.  This wonderful chapel also appeared to have a Gothic style in that it had a high pointing-arched-ceiling.  The Sisters chanted our Vespers there. (We had permission from the secretary).

Praying Vespers

As we were leaving, a room was found across the hall from the chapel that has a very large statue of St. Michael, so Sr. Mary Michael had her picture taken with him, and was very happy to see her patron saint represented there.

Sr. Mary Michael with her patron saint

It was a beautiful day of prayer and pilgrimage and we will continue to offer our prayers and sacrifices for the Holy Father’s intentions and the needs of the Church.