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Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Oratory of the Sacred Heart, Our Lady of Mercy Chapel is a granite building built in the Renaissance Revival style of architecture. Located on Military Road in St. John’s this chapel has served the Sisters of Mercy since 1892. This designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Oratory of the Sacred Heart, Our Lady of Mercy Chapel is designated as a Registered Heritage Structure due to its architectural, historic, and environmental values.
The Oratory of the Sacred Heart, Our Lady of Mercy Chapel is architecturally valuable as a fine example of Renaissance Revival architecture in an ecclesiastical context. Constructed of granite, the Oratory of the Sacred Heart, Our Lady of Mercy Chapel features rusticated quoining on the exterior and it has large stained glass windows. The front façade of the chapel features a large stained glass window, and a large entranceway with decorative trim. The main entrance is flanked by a small turret on each side and a statue of the Sacred Heart in the centre. The roof of the chapel is gambrel and there is a rounded apse at the east end of the church with a domed ceiling. This chapel has a well-preserved interior that features many elements of the Renaissance Revival style of architecture. The interior of this chapel features a domed ceiling over the altar. The walls and ceiling feature elaborate plasterwork and the trim is painted in bright colors typical of the Renaissance Revival style. There are also decorative pilasters with Corinthian capitals and intricate stained glass windows throughout the chapel.
The Oratory of the Sacred Heart, Our Lady of Mercy Chapel was built in 1892 as a memorial to the Golden Jubilee. The room that served as a chapel since 1857 became the present community room. The Oratory of the Sacred Heart, Our Lady of Mercy Chapel is historically valuable due to its association with the Sisters of Mercy. The Sisters of Mercy are a Roman Catholic order of nuns that started their work in Newfoundland in 1842. The Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy is a Roman Catholic Religious Institute founded in Dublin by Sister Catherine McAuley. After the arrival of the Sisters of Mercy in Newfoundland in 1842, Bishop Fleming built the first Mercy Convent a day school for families that were capable of paying educational fees. This institution was intended to complement the existing school for the poor, operated by the Presentation Sisters. The Sisters of Mercy were commissioned by Bishop Fleming to accomplish this task.
The Sisters of Mercy have made a very important contribution to the community of St. John’s through their work in various fields. The Mercy Sisters are known for their work in health care at St. Clare’s Mercy Hospital as well as their work with the elderly at St. Patrick’s Mercy Home and especially their work in education. The convent is historically valuable as a symbol of the work of the Sisters of Mercy. The Oratory of the Sacred Heart, Our Lady of Mercy Convent serves as the point of origin for all of the paths of Mercy in Newfoundland.
The Oratory of the Sacred Heart, Our Lady of Mercy Chapel is environmentally valuable for its location in St. John’s. The Oratory of the Sacred Heart, Our Lady of Mercy Chapel is connected to Our Lady of Mercy Convent and is located on Military Road near the Basilica of St. John the Baptist and Presentation Convent. Furthermore, it is one of a larger complex of ecclesiastical buildings in this area of St. John’s.
Source: Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, unnumbered property file: St. John’s: Our Lady of Mercy Convent
All those exterior elements that are representative of the Renaissance Revival style of architecture as applied to a chapel, including:
-window style and placement;
-stained glass windows;
-statue of Sacred Heart on front facade;
-gambrel roof with apse;
-twin spires; and,
-rusticated quoining on exterior.
All those interior elements that are representative of the Renaissance Revival style of architecture as applied to a chapel, including:
-original plaster work, bright colors, and faux marble work;
-rounded apse with domed ceiling;-
-stained glass windows;
-religious elements including elaborate altar, rail, and pews.
All those elements that speak to the environmental values of the Oratory, including:
-prominent location highly visible within the city;
-location within a larger complex of Roman Catholic buildings; and
-location within the Ecclesiastical District of St. John's.
Newfoundland and Labrador
Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador
Historic Resources Act
Registered Heritage Structure
Theme - Category and Type
- Building Social and Community Life
- Religious Institutions
Function - Category and Type
- Religion, Ritual and Funeral
- Religious Facility or Place of Worship
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland,
1 Springdale Street,
St. John's, NL,
Cross-Reference to Collection