1910 Church Dedication
MAIN ALTAR, FRONTAL VIEW
MAIN ALTAR, FRONT-EPISTLE SIDE VIEW
VIEW FROM THE REAR OF THE NAVE
MARY IMMACULATE OF LOURDES AND BERNADETTE, GROTTO
ORGAN PIPES AND BALCONY, REAR OF NAVE
FRONT EXTERIOR OF THE CHURCH
A Beautiful Domus Dei, a "House of God"
The cornerstone for the new parish church of St. Mary's, Newton & Needham, Massachusetts, was laid on October 9th, 1909.
The completed church building was dedicated the following year: November 24th, 1910, which was Thanksgiving Day.
Then-Archbishop (later Cardinal) William O'Connell presided over the dedication.
It was the Archbishop's wish that such a magnificent new church should have a more distinctive name under the Blessed Virgin Mary's patronage.
Thus it was that the new St. Mary's Church was dedicated under the title "MARY IMMACULATE OF LOURDES".
The Year 1908 marked the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the miraculous apparitions to Bernadette Soubirous in Lourdes, France, and so there was a heightened awareness of Lourdes among Catholics at this time.
A renowned Roman painter Gonippo Raggi was commissioned to provide interior paintings for the interior of Mary Immaculate of Lourdes.
According to the style of the times Raggi produced what was called a "decorated church".
Here the whole of the church's interior is the artist's palette.
The portrait paintings themselves are only a part of the whole artistic work.
They are surrounded by elaborate decorative designs.
These are visible to us from the photographs taken at the time of the Church's dedication.
The colors chosen (maroon, dark green, gold) were deliberately darker and subdued in order to enhance the effect of the natural light coming through the stained-glass windows.
Unfortunately, beginning in the 1960s, maintenance decisions were made to paint over much of this decorative art-work, leaving only the portrait paintings.
It is hoped that the parish will eventually be able to recover some of this decorative work underneath the layers of paint.
In 1909-10 St. Mary's was a large but poor working-class parish.
The new church building of Mary Immaculate of Lourdes represented a tremendous and heroic sacrifice on the part of its parishioners-a lasting legacy to their faith and their desire to construct a beautiful Domus Dei, a "House of God", on the high ground over-looking their village of Newton's Upper Falls.
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