Chapel of St. Peter's Seminary in London, Canada

One of the more impressive collegiate chapels in Canada is that of St. Peter's Seminary, located in London, Ontario -- which is approximately two hours from Detroit.  The entire structure is jewel of gothic revivalism from its outer stone walls, windows with gothic tracery, vaulted hallways and so on, but the real gem of this particular building is the chapel itself -- St. Thomas Aquinas Chapel -- wth its incredible woodwork in particular, not to mention the stonework and stained glass. 

Let's begin with a look at the chapel as it stood prior to the 1970's:

A view from the loft

If you look closely at these photos you will see the carved, poppyheads found on the ends of the pews representing the seven choirs of angels, with the pews themselves arranged collegiate style as one would expect for a seminary / college chapel.  Here is a modern photo of a detail of one of these poppyheads:

Historically there were five niches surrounding apse each with side altars for the seminary faculty to celebrate their daily masses; the niches remain but the altars are now gone. Within the centre of the historical sanctuary sat the high altar with its reredos and above a beautiful wooden altar canopy.  All of these were -- regrettably -- lost in the renovations of the 1970's. However, fortunately the glorious woodwork of the chapel -- all of which was done by Bavarian woodcarvers and imported into Canada -- was retained. Here is what the present day chapel looks like:

Evidently despite the losses, it yet remains an incredibly beautiful chapel -- certainly one of the finest in all of Canada (French Canada inclusive). The ornate stained glass found in the sanctuary and down the nave is of English origins and contains images of the Fathers, Doctors and missionary saints of the Church, while those around the apse depict events in the life of Christ.  

The ceiling is an extraordinary English gothic ceiling with extraordinarily intricate ribbing:

A better view of the woodwork on the lower walls (to the very right of this photo is a hidden door).

One will also see here a closer look at one of the five side altars that originally surrounded the edge of the apse, located behind the high altar.  By comparison, here is a contemporary view showing the current altar of the chapel which replaced the original high altar. While not as impressive as its historical counterpart, it remains a noble piece of liturgical art in its own right.

Always interested in 'digital restorations' I thought I would see how we might merge the two photos of the historical and contemporary versions of this chapel to attempt to recapture a sense of what this chapel might look like today if were to be restored to its historical forms. Here is the result if we re-insert the high altar and its canopy:

Spectacular, noble and simple wth a very clean and clear emphasis upon the high altar as the central focus of the chapel. 

A quick look at some of the rest of the building.

There is also a gorgeous entrance rotunda to the seminary complete with numerous sculptures, gothic tracery and the central image is that of St. Michael the Archangel. (Regrettably I do not have a good photo of it, but you can see an image of it here to get at least a sense of it.) 

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