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Oratory of Notre-Dame-de-Lorette

Michael Nicholas-Schmidt

Recognizing 400 years since their arrival in Canada, the Jesuits of Upper Canada gathered in Midland (Northern Ontario) for pilgrimage, reflection, and future planning.  A temporary chapel was erected to transform a hotel conference room in to a place for prayer and contemplation. The oratory was named after the temporary mission church of Our Lady of Loretto, which in 1649 was created in a Huron longhouse in Quebec.   Following the destruction of the mission settlement Ste. Marie Among the Hurons, Our Lady of Loretto represented a new beginning: a core desire of the contemporary gathering.

In the design, several key themes arose: to construct a temporary space that was sustainable and ecologically sensitive, to acknowledge Jesuit history, and to express the ongoing values and spirit of the contemporary Society. 

Materials were selected which had minimal environmental impact, and could be easily recycled, or broken down after the conference. Paper and paper products were used, including cardboard tubes for structure, and large sheets of handmade paper for enclosure.

The longhouse and tree, are evoked by the structure of the central lantern. The paper enclosure is embedded with symbolically significant plants including maple & birch leaves, rose petals, cedar, and pine needles.  The tabernacle is placed on a slate base from the Canadian Shield.  The strong vertical axis places the Eucharist at the heart of a spreading network.  Cedar trees which help define the sacred perimeter were transplanted in a circular formation at the end of the congress as a commemoration of these themes, the installation, and the anniversary. 

This installation meant to capture a spatial and temporal sacredness by crafting together materials and forms seen in Jesuit history, theology, and mission.


Jean Danielou.  “Program to Adapt the Spritual Exercises,”  Cross Currents (1950): 357-366 

C.E. Heidenreich, “Ste Marie Among the Hurons,” The Canadian Encyclopedia, last modified April

3, 2015.


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