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Form follows spirit in new Seaport Shrine

  • The interior of the shrine is designed to invoke the sense of a wooden ship. Pilot photo/Mark Labbe
  • Father Jonathan Gaspar points out features of the stained glass window of Our Lady of Good Voyage in the vestibule of the shrine. (Pilot photo/Mark Labbe)
  • The USS Constitution is one of several model ships suspended from the shrine’s ceiling. (Pilot photo/Mark Labbe)
  • The statute of Our Lady of Good Voyage is handmade by Bavarian craftsmen. (Pilot photo/Mark Labbe)
  • A stained glass window depicts Cardinal O’Malley’s coat of arms. (Pilot photo/Mark Labbe)

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SOUTH BOSTON -- A decade ago, Boston's Seaport district looked more like an industrial lot than an inhabited part of the city. Today, the Seaport district is under bristling with construction.

Gone are the under-used lots, their asphalt cracking from years of neglect. In their stead is a series of high rise building in various stages of construction. And in the heart of it all sits a newly built church: Our Lady of Good Voyage Shrine.

In the days before the shrine's April 22 dedication, Father Jonathan Gaspar, priest secretary to Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley and Director of the Office of Divine Worship for the Archdiocese of Boston, gave The Pilot a special preview of the chapel.

"Really, the location of the chapel is the first thing that stands out," Father Gaspar said, noting that since the church is located at the corner of Sleeper Street and Seaport Blvd., "as soon as one crosses over the bridge (from downtown), our chapel is there, as the gateway into the Seaport District."

According to Father Gaspar, the design of the building was largely dictated by Cardinal O'Malley's aesthetic.

"The cardinal preferred a more traditional design, and so this church is built in the English Gothic Revival style," he said.

Father Gaspar also noted that everything in the chapel -- from its stained glass windows to the ceiling to the sanctuary flooring -- "is not just functional, but symbolic."

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