‘The Gates of Heaven’
n liturgical celebrations such as baptism, marriage and funerals, the congregation gathers at the door of the church. Through the door, new members, future couples and departed loved ones enter into the Church and through the Church into the life of the Triune God. Accordingly, in the early church the main entrance door was called ‘The Gates of Heaven'.
In order to communicate this meaning, a new door was commissioned as a gift for our church. The hope is that this door will function, in its structural and artistic design, as a visible sign of our Lord Jesus the Christ, who said, ‘Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep.” (John 10:7)
The commissioning and installation of the new door provides an excellent opportunity to recall the profound significance of the church as a building. It is our hope that the presence and endurance of the door will help us to remember our life in Christ.
In context with the Jubilee Year of Mercy which began December 2015, the message of Pope Francis is to open the doors of Divine Mercy to those who wish to return to the Church.
On January 8, 2016, His Eminence Thomas Cardinal Collins blessed the door with a large number of community members standing in witness.
At this communal event, we prayed together Psalm 24:78:
‘Lift up your heads, O gates!
And be lifted up, O ancient doors!
That the King of glory may come in.’
The opening of our new door in the context of this liturgy signaled the start of a new period of evangelization in our community.
Gift of a Bronze DoorHistory
A group of promiinent Catholics wished to gift the Archdiocese of Toronto, and ultimately Our Lady of Sorrows parish, with a major piece of art. St. Michael the Archangel is the Patron Saint of our Archdiocese and its approximately 2 million Catholics. As such, our city includes many institutions named under his patronage such as: St. Michael’s Cathedral, St. Michael’s Hospital, St. Michael’s Choir School, St. Michael’s College School, University of St. Michael’s College, St. Michael’s Residential Treatment Centre, St. Michael’s Cemetery and St. Michael’s Elementary School.
Celebrated contemporary Italian scupltor Ernesto Lamagna was awarded the commission.
More about Maestro Ernesto Lamagna – 'The sculptor of the angels'
rnesto Lamagna (b. 1945) is an internationally renowned contemporary Italian sculptor. He was born in Naples and lives and works in Rome. He studied at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Napoli (Naples Academy of Fine Arts) and has presented in Italy and abroad.
His works include:
- the baptistery and the five-metre-tall Madonna of Notre Dame du Liban (Our Lady of Lebanon) for the Maronite church in Sydney, Australia;
- two sculptures of angels for the Blafford-Owen collection in Houston, Texas;
- the bronze portal entrance to the basilica of Santa Maria della Vittoria in San Vito dei Normanni, Italy;
- bronze doors in the atrium of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Bonaria in Cagliari, Sardinia;
- the Angel of Peace for the atrium of the CNR (Italian National Research Council) headquarters in Rome, Italy;
- the bronze Door of Life for the Mariano sanctuary in Rodi Garganico in Foggia, Italy;
- the bronze doors for the San Filippo Neri oratory in Molfetta, Italy;
- the Angel of the Third Millennium in Barletta, Italy;
- the monument to Saint Benedict the Moor in San Fratello, Sicily;
- the monuments within the Church of the Holy Spirit in Torremaggiore, Italy;
Lamagna was the secretary for sculpture of the Pontifical Academy of Fine Arts and Letters, Virtuosi al Pantheon in Rome from 1998 to 2003. He is the creator of the processional hammer and cross used in 2000 for the Great Jubilee, which is now conserved in the Treasures of the Vatican museum. He participated in a collective exhibit in 2000 to which he contributed the Angel of Light now displayed in the State Basilica of Saint Mary of the Angels in Rome. He contributed the sculpture of Ecce mater Dulcissima in the 2003 exhibit in Rome to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the pontificate of Pope John Paul II. Between 2004 and 2006, Lamagna created the sculptures for the Dehumanitat exhibit at the European Parliament in Brussels. In 2007, he presented the exhibit Ora Nona at Palazzo Venezia in Rome. As of early 2009 he is “embedded” with a contingent of the Italian military as an art instructor to Afghan civilians in Herat, Afghanistan.
Since St. Michael the Archangel is a central dominant Catholic image within the Archdiocese, his image was chosen for the exterior of the door. Throughout the history of the church, St. Michael is represented as battling evil. Common images show St. Michael lancing a dragon. The struggle between good and evil is shown by this artist using the scales of justice and the devil. The phrase ‘QUIS UT DEUS’ means ‘Who [is] like God?’ and is the literal translation of the name Michael. It is the victorious cry first uttered by Archangel Michael, after defending God the Father against Lucifer and the principalities and powers who opposed Him before the beginning of time (Rev 12:7-9).
It is this battle-cry which needs to be our wholehearted and immediate response to the Most High, when He asks us whether we shall cooperate with Him in His divine plan for ourselves and all humanity. We do not require any money to say “yes,” because our Father will provide us with everything we need to fulfill His desires. All we need is a sincere heart and good will (Lk 2:14), to unite our will to His and start bringing His reign and heavenly peace into our severely troubled world.
On Friday July 9, 2013, Pope Francis joined with his predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict, in the Vatican gardens where they consecrated the Vatican to Michael the Archangel and again placed the whole Church under his protection. Following a prayer ceremony, Pope Francis noted that St. Michael defends the People of God from its enemy, the adversary, the devil. He said even if the devil attempts to disfigure the face of the Archangel and thus the face of humanity, St. Michael wins, because God acts in him and is stronger.Inner Door
The inner door is dedicated to our Blessed Mother. On one side, she is standing at the cross caressing the feet of Jesus crucified. On the other side is the Pieta: Jesus has been taken from the cross and put in his Mother’s arms. The phrase: ‘VIDITE SI EST DOLOR SICUT MEUS’ from the Book of Psalms translates as: ‘See if your sorrow is as great as my sorrow’. Our Blessed Mother laments on the loss of her crucified son in the most horrible form of death endured at that time.
Prayer to Our Mother of Sorrows
Our mother of sorrows, with strength from above you stood by the cross,
Sharing in the sufferings of Jesus,
And with tender care you bore Him in your arms, mourning and weeping.
We praise you for your faith, which accepted the life God planned for you.
We praise you for your hope, which trusted that God would do great things in you.
We praise you for your love in bearing with Jesus the sorrows of His passion.
Holy Mary, may we follow your example,
And stand by all your children who need comfort and love.
Mother of God, stand by us in our trials and care for us in our many needs.
Pray for us now and at the hour of our death. Amen.