The altar is a very special place in the church. Here the priest leads the community in the celebration of the Eucharist, and says the special prayers of consecration over the bread and wine that transform them into the Body and Blood of Christ. On the front of the altar are two fish linked by a cross. These are the symbols representing Jesus Christ.
Behind the altar is a marvelous piece of art. The main figure in it is the crucifix, or Jesus on the cross, and it is surrounded by many carvings and symbols. At the very top is a triangle-shaped cloud. This represents the Trinity. Coming from the triangle is the hand of God the Father. Beneath the hand is the dove of the Holy Spirit and beneath that is the crucifix. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are the Trinity, and all of them are God. Towards the bottom, in the corners, are two Greek letters. On the left is the alpha and on the right is the omega. They are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. They are a poetic way of reminding us that God is the beginning and the end of all things, and that God is eternal. In between these two letters, you can see seven stones forming an arch. They represent the seven sacraments and the key in the centre stone is the power to act or to do something.
On top of the alpha is a torch. It is the light of faith. Over the omega is the burning bush of Moses. It was in the burning bush that God first appeared to Moses and told him to free the Jews from slavery in Egypt. Over the torch on the left is a shield. It is there to remind us that Jesus waits for us in heaven. Opposite it is the star of Jacob; it is mentioned in the Old Testament book of Numbers, In a prophecy about the house of David. Jesus came from the house (family) of David, a famous king of Israel. On the left, again, above the shield is another fish, and opposite it is the bronze serpent of Moses. In the Old Testament, Moses held up a serpent to cure the Jewish people.
Saint Dunstan's Tapestry
The St. Dunstan’s Tapestry was commissioned to commemorate the millennium anniversary (1000 years) of St. Dunstan’s death in 988. Gertrude Duffy designed the tapestry from an original design which came from St. Dunstan’s Parish in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Dr. Ivan Crowell was the weaver. A duplicate was sent to the Tulsa Parish.
The tapestry is located near the Tabernacle at the Brunswick Street entrance. The four symbols represented in the tapestry represent the life of St. Dunstan.
Pallium: Archbishop of Canterbury, he went to Rome to receive the Pallium and appointed a Legate of the Holy See by Pope John XII
Chalice: St. Dunstan made bells and sacred vessels for the church. Saint Dunstan is the patron saint of goldsmiths, jewellers and locksmiths.
Crosier: Bishop of Worcester (958), Bishop of London (959), Archbishop of Canterbury (960).
Pincers: Legend has it that St. Dunstan, with a pair of blacksmith pincers,seized the nose of the devil who was trying to tempt him.
St. Joseph Side Altar
This altar is dedicated to St. Joseph, the husband of Mary. His symbols are the lily, which means purity, and a church. He holds the church in his hand because he is the patron saint of the universal church - that is, he is the patron saint of all the churches in the world. On the front of the altar is another lily. This one refers to a popular story about Joseph. According to this story, several young men wanted to be Mary's husband. The high priest told them to throw staffs (walking sticks), into the courtyard of the temple. When Joseph's hit the ground, it burst into bloom, and so he was chosen to be Mary's husband.
This may be just a story, but the image of the lily is a wonderful reminder of Joseph. There is also a carpenter's square and two doves on the front of this altar. The square is there because Joseph was a carpenter. The doves represent the sacrifice offered in the temple when Jesus was born. Back then, Jewish law said that all firstborn children belonged to God. To symbolize this special kind of belonging, parents had to offer a sacrifice. If you were rich, you could offer lambs or goats. Two doves would have been a poor family's offering.
Glass(Around doors to Regent St.). The stained glass images show a vine. In the New Testament, Jesus describes himself as the Vine and Christians are the branches. This window reminds us that in order to live and be strong, we need to stay attached to Jesus, just like the branches need to stay on the vine.
Our Lady of Perpetual Help Shrine
This is a shrine, like the one on the other side of the church, where people can light candles and say prayers. This is a shrine to Mary, who is sometimes called Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
There are three portraits of Mary here. The first, on the right,shows Mary as the Immaculate Conception. In the middle is a painting called Our Lady of Perpetual Help. She is always painted in the same way. The third portrait is another statue of Mary, this time as the Assumption. The church teaches us that when she died, Mary went straight to heaven, body and soul.Other symbols found in the shrine in front of the candles include the lily - the symbol of purity; the Chi-Rho (P-X) - the first two Greek letters of the word "Christ"; and the cinquefoil, which means "five leaves" - it is a stylized rose.
The rose is there as a symbol for Mary because sometimes Mary is called the "Mystical Rose". Again, the offertory candles are lit as reminders of our prayers, burning even after we have left.
The candles are a sign of the light of Christ. People light these candles as a reminder of their prayers, because they will keep on burning after the words of the prayer is finished. In a way, the candle continues our prayer even after we have left the church. The small candles burn for 8 hours. The big candles burn for 5 days.
Stations of The Cross
Along the sides of the church are the fourteen stations of the cross, each station depicted in wood carved images. These images tell the story of Jesus, suffering, death and burial on Good Friday.
The fifteenth station is the Resurrection of Jesus, the image depicted over the tabernacle on the right side alter.
The tabernacle is also called the repository. Here, leftover hosts from the Eucharist are kept. The red candle, called the sanctuary candle, is always lit to let everyone know that the consecrated host is present in the church.
The mosaic on the wall behind the tabernacle shows Jesus after the resurrection. The symbols on the front of the repository are fish and bread.
They are there to remind us of the story of the loaves and fishes. The fish is also important because the five Greek letters which spell the word "fish"- I, C, Th, Y, S - are also the initial letters of "Jesus Christ Son of God Saviour" in Greek. Because of this, the fish was an early Christian secret symbol for Christ.
Sacred Heart Chapel
Chapel(Right hand side of the church) This chapel is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Notice the gold on the statue. The Sacred Heart is devotion, or a type of prayer, that has been around the Catholic Church for almost 1000 years.
It focuses on Jesus' suffering during Good Friday, when he was crucified. Notice the whip, spear, nails and crown of thorns in front of the candles. Another symbol in front of the candles is called a Chi-Rho (pronounced Kye Roe). It looks like an X and a P. They are the first two Greek letters in the word "Christ". Other symbols on the wall are doves - the sign of the Holy Spirit.
This round room, enclosed in a wrought iron gate, was the former baptistery - the place where people were baptized. It was placed at the entrance to the church because it is through our own baptism that we enter the church or become members of it.
The vulture represents Jesus Christ, and the fishes represent Christians. The fish in the vulture's claw is a symbol of how firmly Jesus holds onto us once we've been baptized. The white marble marker is not a grave but a memorial to Bishop Dollard, bishop of Fredericton in the 1850's.
Holy Water Fonts
These basins are always filled, except on Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday just before Easter. They are filled with holy water, the same water that is used for baptisms.
We dip our hands in these basins when we come into the Church and cross ourselves to remind us of our baptism.
Statue of St. Dunstan
Our church is named in honour of St. Dunstan. St. Dunstan died in 988 - over 1000 years ago. We don't really know what he looked like, but we know it is St. Dunstan because of the symbols he is shown with.
The anvil and the hammer are in the statue because he was a metalsmith and worked with precious metals like gold and silver. The chalice shows that he was a priest, and the mitre or hat, shows us that he was also a bishop.
St. Anthony of Padua
Like St. Dunstan, we really don't know what St Anthony of Padua looked like. We do know that this is a likeness of St. Anthony because of the way he is portrayed. The first clues to his identity are his haircut - called a tonsure - and his brown robe.
They tell us he belonged to the order of Franciscans (founded by St. Francis of Assisi). Second, St. Anthony is usually shown with the child Jesus in his arms. Other symbols found with St. Anthony are the lily, a sign of purity, and the open book, a sign of his scholarship.
The lectern by the repository is where the cantor sings the psalms and the responses during the mass. It has the shield of faith on the front. The P - X is called the Chi-Rho, the first two letters in Greek for Christ. It also shows a dove. The dove represents the Holy Spirit.
On the wall of the stairwell is a painting of the crucifixion. It used to hang behind the altar in the first St. Dunstan's church in Fredericton. This portrait of the crucifixion shows Mary, mother of Jesus, and John, the Beloved Disciple, with Jesus.
Close to the exit is a statue of St. Anne. St. Anne is the mother of Mary and she is usually shown with her daughter. In this statue she is shown teaching Mary about God and the "Law." The Roman numerals for the numbers 1 through 10 represent the Ten Commandments, which is the basis for what is called the Jewish Law.
This is the baptismal font. At baptism, holy water is poured over the person's head three times. The priest says, "I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit."
The Great Window
Located behind the choir loft, this stained glass window shows an image of Jesus on the cross. Above the crucifix is the sun. This represents the "sun [son] of justice", or Jesus. Coming out of the foot of the cross are seven streams of water. These represent the seven sacraments. The two peacocks drinking out of the streams are symbols of immortality because in ancient times, people believed peacocks could not die. The meaning of the whole window is that we gain eternal life through Jesus crucifixion and through participation in the sacraments.
These are reconciliation rooms located in three different locations around the church: at the back, and on each side before you exit through the side doors. These are places where people often go to speak with the priest about their sins and troubles in a confidential, private way.
On the door of the confessionals is a key. This is the same as the key in the stones behind the altar. It comes from the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament, where Jesus tells Peter he is giving him the keys to the Kingdom of God. The key is a symbol of power, of the ability to do something special. In this case, it is the power to forgive sins on God's behalf. The hand is shown as raised. This is a sign of blessing and that your sins are forgiven.