Shrine of Our Lady of Good Voyage
The Shrine of Our Lady of Good Voyage and The Mission:
The Shrine of Our Lady of Good Voyage is an Apostolate of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. The spiritual connection to the Chair of the Archbishop serves to demonstrate the Archbishop’s desire that the Seaport Shrine become an important center for evangelization, especially to young adults. The Shrine of Our Lady of Good Voyage is is a vibrant and welcoming community at the heart of Boston's Seaport who seek to be the Body of Christ to each other and in our world.
On October 22, 2015, the Archdiocese entered into a purchase & sale agreement to sell the property upon which Our Lady of Good Voyage Chapel was situated. The property remained with the Archdiocese until a new chapel was constructed and ready to open on a new parcel that would be owned by the Archdiocese. The current structure was dedicated by his Eminence, Cardinal Seán O’Malley, OFM Cap., April 22, 2017 during the Vigil Mass of Divine Mercy.
As residents, workers, and tourists cross the Evelyn Moakley bridge into Boston’s Seaport district, they are immediately welcomed by the presence of the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Voyage. In many ways, the Seaport Shrine is the “gateway” to this district, welcoming all with the peace, mercy, and love of Christ.
As the New England fishing industry grew and expanded, Cardinal Cushing recognized the growing number of fishermen working in Boston’s seaport. In 1952 he established the Seaport Chapel as a worker’s chapel for all those who worked at sea, and he placed the church under the patronage of Our Lady of Good Voyage. Among those who participated in the construction of the chapel was the pastor of Our Lady of Good Voyage Church in Gloucester, who also donated the statue of Mary that has stood in the entrance of the chapel on Northern Avenue. This chapel was a home for those who worked at sea and especially for their families who would pray for the safety of their loved ones.
History of the Devotion to Our Lady of Good Voyage
Our Lady of Good Voyage is a Marian devotion of the Catholic church which has its origin in the maritime communities of Portugal and Spain. The oldest Shrine dedicated to Our Lady under this title is located in the Portuguese village of Ericeira near Lisbon. A procession of boats and a blessing of the fishing fleet is commonly associated with the annual celebrations of her feast on the 15th of August, the Feast of the Assumption of Our Lady. Devotion to Our Lady of Good Voyage followed the Portuguese and Spanish immigrants who went throughout the world to continue their work on the sea, and who brought with them their piety and faith.
The devotion to Our Lady of Good Voyage is particular to the New England fishing industry. The first church in the United States dedicated to this title of Our Lady was established in 1889 in the Massachusetts fishing village of Gloucester, located one-hour north of Boston. The 19th century saw tremendous growth in the New England cod fishery. Men of Italian, Canadian, West Indian, and especially Portuguese descent flocked to Gloucester for work as fishermen. The Gloucester church was built for the Portuguese families who made their living on the sea and whose devotion to Our Lady was strong. They would pray to her for the safe travel of their husbands and sons at sea, begging for her protection and intercession. This is why the image of Our Lady shows her holding a ship in her hand.
Designed by ADD Inc. of Boston, the exterior follows a traditional A-Frame style. The cross has been repurposed from the former parish of St. Mary Star of the Sea, Quincy. The bell was created by the Verdin Bell Company of Ohio. It is made of brass and is twenty-four inches in diameter. The beautiful, high-pitched sound of the bell reminds listeners of the sounds of buoys and lighthouses at sea. In church architecture, the door does not merely provide a function, but it also serves as a powerful symbol of Christ who said: “I am the door” (John 10:9). As one passes through the doors, one enters into the life of Christ. The pilgrim leaves the chaos of the world behind and enters into the peace and rest of the Lord, who alone is holy. The front doors feature gothic wood planks with wrought iron gothic hinges. The hinges incorporate themes including an anchor and fish.
Additions to the Shrine
At the start of 2019, the Shrine has undergone some changes within the interior of the Church. The most notable addition is the detailed stenciling of the sanctuary wall. The stenciling project was part of the original plans for the Shrine. The designs all complement other aspects of the Shrine and frame the beautiful triptych window above the altar. The stenciling was designed and completed by EverGreene Architectural Arts.
The stenciling includes symbols already found throughout the Shrine including an anchor, the Fleur-de-lis, a Christogram of the letters I.H.S., and a monogram representing the name of Mary.
The fleur-de-lis is a stylized lily composed of three petals bound together at their base. The flower is a symbol of the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus. The whiteness and beauty of the lily is symbolic of the purity of Mary Immaculate. As a Marian symbol, it is often seen in churches, especially ones dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The monogram depicts the letters MRA which stand for the name of Mary.
The monogram for Our Lady was a popular pilgrim's badge, in the 14th and 15th century, worn by those who had visited her shrines. A Christogram is a monogram or combination of letters that forms an abbreviation for the name of Jesus Christ. In the Latin-speaking Christianity of medieval Western Europe the most common Christogram became "IHS" or "IHC", denoting the first three letters of the Greek name of Jesus, ΙΗΣΟΥΣ. An anchor was added to the design, keeping with the nautical theme of the Shrine. An anchor is also an ancient symbol of the church signifying hope and security. It was found among the catacomb inscriptions of the first century. It is a symbolic prayer for aid to mariner.
One of the final additions to the Shrine was the completion of the text which goes around the ceiling of the Nave and the ceiling of the Mary Shrine in May of 2019. With a deep blue background, the gold text in the nave is an excerpt of Psalm 107: "They that go down to the sea in ships doing business in the great waters, these have seen the works of the Lord and His wonders in the deep, and they cried to the Lord, and He turned the storm into a breeze and its waves were still."
The text in the Mary Shrine is an excerpt from the Prayer of Azariah which can be found in Daniel 3:51-90: "Oh, ye seas and rivers, bless the Lord, oh ye whales and all ye that move in the waters, bless the Lord, bless and exalt Him forever."
St. Peter the Fisherman and Mary Shrine
Keeping with the nautical theme of the Shrine and close history with the Boston Fishermen working in the Seaport, a statue of St. Peter the Fisherman has been installed within the Shrine in December 2017. St. Peter is depicted holding a fishing net and two keys referencing the passage in scripture: “...you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church…” Matthew 16:18. The life of St. Peter is documented in the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. Peter’s original name was Simon. He was a fisherman who was called by Jesus to be one of the twelve Apostles along with his brother, Andrew. During one conversation, when Jesus asked who the people said He was, Simon said that He was the Son of God, a truth that had been revealed to him by the Father, but was (at that time) unknown to the other Apostles. Jesus called him “Cephas” or Peter, which means Rock, and told him that on this rock He would build His Church, and the gates of hell would not prevail against it. The Feast Day of Saint Peter the Patron Saint of Fishermen is June 29th.
The two statues of Our Lady of Good Voyage and St. Peter were decorated with some stenciling in February of 2019. The words "Our Lady of Good Voyage" have been added over the statue and a pattern of stars now embellishes the previously blank wall behind it. The stars stem from an ancient devotion to the Blessed Mother under the title of Star of the Sea from the eighth century hymn Ave maris stella (Latin for "Hail Star of the Sea"). It was especially popular in the Middle Ages and has been used by many composers as the basis of other compositions. The "Ave maris stella" was highly influential in presenting Mary as a merciful and loving Mother. The title, "Star of the Sea" is one of the oldest and most widespread titles applied to Mary. The hymn is frequently used as a prayer for safe-conduct for travelers, especially those who travel by sea.
Similarly, the wall behind the statue of St. Peter has been embellished with the words "St. Peter" stenciled above the statue and a golden frame within the niche.