Cathedrals’ gems reflect Manitoba’s rich heritage

Art over the baptismal font at St. Mary’s Cathedral, Winnipeg. (CNS photo/Barb Fraze)

WINNIPEG, Manitoba — The city of Winnipeg has three Catholic cathedrals with artistic gems that reflect Manitoba’s rich religious and cultural heritage.

St. Mary’s Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Winnipeg, which serves Latin-rite Catholics — primarily English-speaking — is situated near the Winnipeg Convention Centre, in the city center. The building was consecrated late in the 19th century, but its exterior belies some of the contemporary works inside, such as the art over the 21st-century baptismal font at the back of the church. The glass pane above the font depicts the baptism of Jesus and reflects the nave.

(In the interest of full disclosure, photos for this blog were taken with a point-and-shoot camera, not the normal equipment used by CNS.)

The Archdiocese of Saint-Boniface serves the area’s French-speaking Catholics. When people think of this cathedral, they often picture the impressive French-Romanesque façade. But inside the shell of the early 19th-century structure is a modern church. The artwork is stunning and reflects the liturgical, cultural and historical roots of the area, dating back to native peoples and French explorers.

Stained-glass window of the Last Supper at the Cathedral of Saint-Boniface, Winnipeg, Manitoba. (CNS photo/Barb Fraze)

The 1970s cathedral, including its windows, was designed by Etienne Gaboury. He used modern images for his work, including the windows depicting the Stations of the Cross, which form most of the nave’s side walls. His stained-glass Last Supper, over the entrance to the nave, is a three-dimensional phenomenon.

Part of the iconostasis at the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of St. Volodymyr and Olha, Winnipeg, Manitoba. (CNSphoto/Barb Fraze)

Winnipeg is also home to the Ukrainian Catholic Church’s Archeparchy, the term for an Eastern Catholic archdiocese. The Cathedral of St. Volodymyr and Olha is full of Eastern symbols and icons. Its stained-glass windows were designed by Dutch-Canadian artist Leo Mol.

But for many visitors, perhaps the most impressive church art will be the iconostasis, the ornate gold screen in front of the altar.

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