The Sanctuary

The Sanctuary is the most decorated part of the Cathedral. This area houses the High Altar, above which looms the stained glass of the magnificant East Window. The backdrop to the altar is an elegantly carved reredos.


Click to visit...
1. Nave
2. Chancel
3. Sanctuary
4. East Window
5. North Transept
6. South Transept


The Sanctuary

Looking into the chancel from the communion rail, the high altar lies directly at the front of the church under the great East Window. Made of butternut and a large marble slab, it is usually covered by the appropriate coverings for the liturgical season; each covering was made by members of the congregation.


The High Altar

Immediately to the right of the altar are the Sedelia where the celebrant and assisting priests sit during high altar services. Made of Caen stone from Normandy, it is one of the most ornate carvings in the cathedral. Next to the Sedelia is a credence, above which is a carving of Christ crowned with thorns.

Common tradition has it this carving is all that remains of the reredos Bishop Medley had commissioned by Exeter masons in England for the Cathedral. Apparently the installation was to be a carving of Christ and the Apostles on Ascension Day. It is rumoured that the reredos were smashed once they reached New Brunswick because of the religious tensions at the time, but no one knows what exactly took place.


The current reredos was given in 1950 by the clergy and laity of the diocese in memory of Bishop Richardson. The previous reredos found a home in St. George in the Church of St. Mark.

The reredos was designed by the English firm of Wippells, and the central figure seen here is Christ the King.


Above the reredos and high altar is the East Window. It contains seven detailed panels with three apostles on either side of the center pane containing Christ on the Cross. Click on the image for a detailed view.


A cross from the sedelia on the left of the high altar is the first of the Cathedral's two Cathedras, or bishop's thrones. This one was simple by Bishop Medley's request. The other, made in memory of Bishop Kingdon by the clergy and lay of the diocese. It is much more ornate and has two "guardian" angels on each shoulder of the throne. Also, on the back panel the arms of the Bishops of Fredericton is carved.

Along each side of the sanctuary are the Canons stalls which are reserved for the members of Chapter and the Archdeacons, although now they usually are occupied by the Treble Choir on sunday mornings. The Canon stalls and the woodwork of the sanctuary is the original Butterfield woodwork.

Above the Canon stalls up to the roof are on the sanctuary walls are murals painted by John Lee in 1877. The patterns were designed and executed by Mr. Lee, who intentionally left the pattern incomplete near Medley's throne, symbolising the imperfection of earthly creations.

A Cathedral Fact... - How do you clean a mural?

When years of accumulated soot caused the walls and paintings to need cleaning (the Cathedral was originally lit with candles) there was concern that cleaning solvents would destroy the murals. It was found that the best way was to use a gum eraser. The walls of the entire sanctuary were rubbed and erased until the soot was removed!