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Visiting Holy Name Church, Danforth Avenue, Toronto, Ontario: By Arthur W. Holmes, Built 1913 - 1926

Updated on November 27, 2019
Provincial flag of Ontario
Provincial flag of Ontario | Source
Holy Name Catholic Church, located near the intersection of Pape and Danforth Avenue in Toronto, Ontario.
Holy Name Catholic Church, located near the intersection of Pape and Danforth Avenue in Toronto, Ontario. | Source

An oblique hint toward Marshall MacLuhan?

[NB: Among the many notable buildings which are the subject of the hubpages, these may include religious buildings, described as churches, etc.; these descriptions centre on the buildings' architectural and historical interest.]

At the intersection of Danforth and Pape Avenues, in Toronto, Ontario, is situated a church building with a particularly noticeable frontate: Holy Name Church, a picture of which looks as if the building is situated in Italy or Spain.

In a manner of speaking, it is.

The design of the building, by Arthur W. Holmes (1) is based loosely on the Papal Basilica of Saint Mary Major (Italian: Basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore) Rome, Italy (2), renovated by Fernando Fuga (1699-1782). While Architect Holmes's creation is much smaller than the building which served as a model for it, both structures share certain features such as alternating broken pediments in triangular and rounded style and classical pillars (see photo, below).

In the case of this building with its frontage on Danforth Avenue, Toronto, the lines of what are technically pillars on the lower storey are continued above four of the six pillars as pilasters at the upper storey.

The styling also extends to a prominent cupola, a feature which the building in Rome, on which it is generally patterned, lacks.

So, Spain, also? While perhaps there are no direct links between Holy Name Church, Toronto, and that country, it is interesting that the King of Spain — Felipe VI — is protocanon of the chapter of the Papal Basilica of Saint Mary Major, Rome, by way of an ex officio function, linked with the Spanish monarchy's strong, historical links with Italy.

Architect Holmes is noted as someone who converted to Roman Catholicism in the course of his long career designing mainly Roman Catholic church buildings. One may wonder even if remembering his life even obliquely demonstrates an instance of the oft quoted maxim of prominent, fellow Roman Catholic Canadian social commentator Marshall MacLuhan (1911-1980), who wrote the memorable work: "The medium is the message" (3).

November 27, 2019


(1) Architect Holmes (1863-1944) was known as a prolific designer of ecclesiastical buildings; some of these include St Paul's, Toronto, parts of St Michael's College, Toronto and of St Augustine's Seminary, Scarborough.

(2) Other buildings designed by Fernando Fuga include the Palazzo Corsini (now the seat of the Italian Senate), Rome, contributions to the Palazzo Quirinale (now the residence of the President of Italy), and various church buildings.

(3) See also:

Some sourcing: Wikipedia

Basilica of Saint Mary Major. Santa Maria Maggiore (Rome)
Basilica of Saint Mary Major. Santa Maria Maggiore (Rome) | Source

Also worth seeing

In Toronto itself, other historic church buildings include the Metropolitan United Church, St James's and St. Michael's Cathedrals; a very few of other noted buildings include: the Ontario Legislative Assembly Building, Queen's Park, Old City Hall, Osgoode Hall, Campbell House, Old Fort York.


How to get there: Air Canada, flies to Toronto Pearson Airport, with wide North American and other connections, from where car rental is available....Danforth Avenue, Toronto is close to the Chester station of TTC Subway Route 2, Bloor-Danforth Line. Some facilities may be withdrawn without notice. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. For any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities, please refer to appropriate consular sources.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

Map location of Toronto, Ontario
Map location of Toronto, Ontario | Source

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