The Basilica Museum was officially opened for another season in early June and all the volunteer committee that operates the Museum are hoping that this will be one of the best seasons yet. The museum will be housed in the Basilica Residence, this year all displays are located in Episcopal Library.
Mr. Tom Doyle the Chair of the Basilica Museum Committee said that the Library is a wonderful space for the collection and that he anticipates that parishioners, guests and tourists will be as impressed with the library as they will be with the extensive collection of church artifacts that will be on display.
The residence and the library have an extensive history.
The old Residence, built by Bishop Mullock in 1856, was destroyed by fire in February 1921. The Episcopal Library, which remains today attached to the residence, survived the fire. The new Episcopal Residence, the present building, was built by Archbishop E.P. Roche and officially opened in December 1924. It was designed by the noted New York architectural firm of Delano and Aldrich, and was modeled in the Beaux-Arts style. Pidgeon and Murphy of St. John's were the general contractors, and the supervising architect was John E. Hoskins of St. John's. The exterior work was constructed of bluestone, quarried at Signal Hill, St. John's, backed with concrete with trim of freestone, imported from the Wallace quarries in Nova Scotia. All freestone from the old residence was redressed and used again. Originally, the Archbishop's office, drawing room, and dining room were in the first floor, in addition to a kitchen and servant's quarters. The second floor provided rooms for the archbishop and vicar general, and a private guest room, while the third floor was occupied by priests on Cathedral staff.
This year the collection on display has grown even larger with some very interesting artifacts being donated and loaned for display this year. The display as in the past includes sacred vessels from the Basilica Sacristy, and pictures of the bishops and archbishops of St. John's, from the first pastor and Perfect Apostolic James Louis O'Donel in 1784 through Bishops' Fleming and Mullock standing in a gateway to the cathedral year in 1861. A sculpture, The Infant Jesus by renowned Irish sculptor John Edward Carew, designer of the base relief The Death of Nelson on Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square, London, may be found among the exhibits. Archbishop Roche's ermine Cappa Magna, or great cape, and the Episcopal.
A Throne carved by Bishop Mullock's father Thomas, a cabinetmaker, recall the liturgy of the Church before the Second Vatican Council. The Archbishop's Dining Room is restored to look as it would have in the 1920's.
A massive late 19th century reproduction oak table with eighteen chairs, in the "Jacobethan" style. The large oak sideboard is said to have been removed from the Old Palace as it burned in 1921 by firemen, at risk of their lives. Visitors will also find themselves surrounded by over six thousand books in six languages; the oldest dates from 1524. This year the Museum Committee is also pleased to present a special display that focuses on the academic, sports and spiritual history of St. Bonaventure's College.
The school that was opened in 187 closed in 1998 but will reopen as a private Catholic School in September 1999. A gift shop was opened in 1997, offering publications and souvenirs of the Basilica-Cathedral, and selected items from the Basilica-Cathedral book store.
The Basilica-Cathedral Museum was opened in 1991 in the Sacristy Annex in the Basilica-Cathedral, and in 1997, was re-opened by Archbishop James H. MacDonald, C.S.C. in the Basilica Residence.Manning Award for Excellence Presented to Basilica Museum Committee