Monday, May 30, 2011

St Francis Xavier Cathedral, Green Bay, WI

After visiting the shrines of The Packers, St Joseph and Our Lady of Good Help, Father Doerfler finally took me to visit the Cathedral. He is resident there and I had stayed the previous night in the Rectory.

I can only say I was completely stunned by the beauty of this magnificent Cathedral church dedicated to St Francis Xavier.

Father genuflected to the tabernacle which is in the centre of the sanctuary. I had not done so as I presumed that the Blessed Sacrament would be reposed in a side chapel and I hadn't averted immediately to a sanctuary light (there are many, many votive lamps burning in this lovely church.)

I completely disagree with tabernacles in ordinary parish churches being anywhere but in the centre but I do have some sympathy (or perhaps it's just that I have come to expect it) with the view that in a cathedral it should be elsewhere than in the sanctuary, particularly as the rubrics of the Novus Ordo (I don't know about the Usus Antiquior) indicate that, when a bishop is to celebrate the Mass, the tabernacle may/should be empty. But, yes, the Blessed Sacrament is reserved in the central tabernacle. Apparently, the previous bishop ordered that the tabernacle and the Blessed Sacrament be returned to the centre of the sanctuary. Well done that man!

The Cathedral is adorned with many statues of saints, most of which have a reliquiary by them containing a relic of the respective saint. I am sure you would have no problem guessing who the saints are but I have captioned the photos just in case:

St Agnes

St Therese of Lisieux

St Anthony of Padua (patron of
the parish I am to assume pastoral care of as from July 1st).

St Francis Xavier himself occupies a lovely side
chapel to the right of the sanctuary.

There are also statues of Our Lady and St Joseph but there are, unsurprisingly, no relics of these saints. However there is this beautiful Lady Chapel with a wonderful mosaic of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour. Beneath the altar mensa is a sculpture of the buried Christ with a white shroud over it.

The sculpture is on display throughout the Easter season after which the medallions which normally fill the circular holes will be replaced and the sculpture concealed from view.

View of the entrance to the Cathedral.

The bishop's crest on his seat: Charity, Knowledge, Fortitude.
I think the bishop's crest contains a very apt motto. I cannot immediately recall if this trinity of qualities comes from a scriptural quotation but it certainly reminds me of  2 Tim. 1:7 - "for God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control." A bishop surely needs these infused gifts of the Holy Spirit of Charity, Knowledge and Fortitude.

I know nothing about heraldry but I notice the crest contains Jesus' Sacred Heart with the crown of thorns, a star above battlements on a blue background (no doubt referring to Our Lady), the St Andrew's cross with a boat (Andrew was the brother of Simon Peter, both of whom were fishermen; it was Peter's - and perhaps Andrew's too - boat that Jesus borrowed when he preached to the people on the shore of the Sea of Galilee), an arrow the significance of which I cannot guess. The lower left quadrant appears to show water flowing into land, perhaps a symbol of the waters of baptism irrigating the dry earth? I couldn't find any information on the shield at the diocesan website.

I was very happy to concelebrate at Mass the following morning. The Mass was preceded by the recitation of the rosary by a number of parishioners who offered prayers for vocations, for priests and for other wonderful intentions. There is clearly a very prayerful atmosphere in this parish.

And so it was off to Chicago...

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