St. Michael's Cathedral reopens with great fanfare after 5 years of restoration work

Toronto’s St. Michael’s Cathedral reopened Thursday after five years of restoration work both inside and outside the church.

The church also has a new designation from the Vatican: minor basilica

St. Michael's Cathedral, now called St. Michael's Cathedral Basilica, is ready for its reopening early on the morning of Sept. 29. (John Rieti/CBC)

Toronto's St. Michael's Cathedral reopened Thursday after five years of restoration work both inside and outside the church.

About 1,200 guests were expected at the church for Mass Thursday evening on what is actually the feast of St. Michael.

Doors inside the church are polished to a high shine. (John Rieti/CBC)

The restoration work included conservation of the exterior façade and the 84-metre tower, reinforcement of the foundations, construction of a new balcony and a crypt chapel, as well as new public bathrooms.

The inside of St. Michael's Cathedral is seen in 1998. (CBC)

There are also new floors, the celestial ceiling was restored, and 13 statues were added, while 26 were restored.

The altar at the newly refurbished St. Michael's Cathedral Basilica is ready for the rededication Mass on Thursday. (John Rieti/CBC)

There is also a new custom-built Casavant Opus 3907 organ, which has 4,143 pipes ranging in size from around a centimetre to almost 10 metres.

The organ is polished and ready to be played. (John Rieti/CBC)

The cathedral, what the Archdiocese of Toronto calls the oldest in Toronto still being used for its original purpose, will be rededicated with a new designation from the Vatican. The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments granted the cathedral the title of minor basilica.

"As such, the mother church of the Archdiocese of Toronto will be known moving forward as St. Michael's Cathedral Basilica, in recognition of its historic and current significance as a place of worship and sacred celebration in our archdiocese, our province, and our country," said a statement from the Archdiocese.

Scaffolding covers the church's interior beauty during the five-year restoration process. (CBC)
Students from St. Michael's Choir School enter the church ahead of rehearsal for Thursday night's Mass. (John Rieti/CBC)
A stained-glass window gleams despite the clouds outside. (John Rieti/CBC)