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THE THANKSGIVING CHURCH
1910

Last Sunday’s bulletin related the news report of the Church of St. Mary’s consecration, after extensive renovations to the existing parish church, on April 30th, 1876. This Sunday’s is another news report from the Boston Globe, also discovered by our parish archivist Martha Phillips, on the consecration of the entirely new parish church for St. Mary’s on November 24th, 1910, Thanksgiving Day. This particular story anticipated the Church’s consecration by four days. Here follows the transcription of that account:  

NEW CATHOLIC CHURCH IN NEWTON
TO COST $150,000

(Sunday, November 20th, 1910, “Boston Globe”)  

On the morning of Thanksgiving Day a notable addition to the long list of beautiful churches in Newton will be dedicated by the Right Rev. William H. O’Connell, Archbishop of Boston. It is the new edifice of the Society of Mary Immaculate of Lourdes, or, as it is more generally known, St. Mary’s Parish, Newton Upper Falls.

The new building stands at the junction of Elliot and Oak Sts., and was built at the cost of $150,000, including the cost of the art. The first sod was turned on the last Sunday in June, 1909, and the cornerstone was laid in October past…..The style of architecture is Romanesque. Throughout the building of the church the energetic pastor Rev. Fr. Timothy J. Danahy has given his personal attention to many of the details. One of the striking feature is the clock tower 135 feet high with a roof of red tiling. This tower, in addition to the clock, contains three bells which toll the Angelus as well as the hours.

The portico of the church is supported on massive pillars. The façade holds a group of statues representing the vision of Mary Magdalene at Lourdes (sic!—The “cluelessness” of the media is nothing new. The Boston Globe reporter has confused Mary Magdalene with Our Lady, Mary Immaculate of Lourdes.), representing the various classes coming to her for strength and restoration to health. This group is 25 feet long.

But it is inside that the church shows to best advantage, for the interior is magnificent. Paintings and statues and stained-glass windows of the highest order are in evidence.

There are seats for 800 in the auditorium, while the gallery will seat 250 or more. In the basement is a chapel with seating capacity for 500. (No fire code would ever allow for that kind of density today! The nave of the church has an official capacity for 400. There is no over-flow seating allowed in the choir loft. The downstairs chapel was re-purposed as a parish hall in the 1980s.)  

The auditorium (the proper term is the “nave” of the church) is flanked by two huge steel pillars to a side. The supporting beams of the roof are bridgework steel and hardwood and from base to crest the auditorium is 68 feet high. The organ is placed in the balcony. There are 13 large windows on the main floor, the 14th being given over to a niche to the Blessed Virgin Mary at Lourdes, as represented by a small group of statuary. The windows were manufactured by F.X. Zettler at Munich, many of them from cartoons sent there by the Rev. Fr. Danahy. Three of the windows are in memoriam and the others are gifts as are 16 smaller windows in the upper part of the building.  

The ceiling is decorated with pictures representing the saints and biblical topics the work being done by G. [Gonippo] Raggi. Many of the windows are copies of world-famous paintings, some by Raphael and some by Murillo. The Sistine Madonna is one of the most striking.

The interior of the church is lighted by four wrought-iron chandeliers, bearing electric clusters, and lamps on each of the pillars. The altar is the product of a Baltimore concern and is one of the most beautiful in the diocese. The rail is of Numidian marble, while white Italian marble is used in the altar itself. St. Joseph’s altar is crowned by a painting of Christ and His Mother and over the altar of the Sacred Heart is a painting of angels incensing.

The sanctuary is under a dome, the ceiling of which bears three paintings. These depict the Annunciation, the Assumption and the Coronation. On the front of the altar the Last Supper is depicted in relief. Back of the altar is a painting of Christ prepared for burial.

The land on which the church stands is of sufficient size to provide an additional tract large enough for a rectory and a parochial school when the time comes to build them.

(The rectory was not built until the 1930s. The over-flow parking lot on Linden St. was the space reserved for the parochial school. Unfortunately, it was never built for lack of funds.)

About Our Parish

Mary Immaculate of Lourdes is Newton and Needham Massachusetts's oldest Roman Catholic Parish. Founded as Saint Mary's Parish in 1870 it was renamed "Mary Immaculate of Lourdes" when the new Church was dedicated on Thanksgiving Day, 1910. In addition to being a regular territorial parish of the Archdiocese of Boston it is also a "Mission Parish" since 2007 with a special apostolate for the Traditional Latin Mass (1962 Missal).

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