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St. Michael returns to the Bond Wing

Toronto, November 5, 2015

By Kate Manicom

The statue of St. Michael the Archangel
The statue of St. Michael the Archangel has been located in the Cardinal Carter Wing since St. Michael’s Feast Day in 1996. In early 2016, St. Michael will return to its original home in the Bond Wing. (Photo by Yuri Markarov)

The statue of St. Michael the Archangel is returning to the Bond Wing where it stood watch over the lobby from the late 1890s to 1996.

The statue must be moved to a temporary location to protect it during the hospital’s redevelopment project, St. Michael’s 3.0. The Cardinal Carter lobby, where it now stands, will be turned over to Bondfield Construction for renovations in early 2016 and will ultimately become part of the expanded Emergency Department.

Eventually, St. Michael – commonly known as “the Angel” – will have a permanent home in the Peter Gilgan Patient Care Tower following its 2017 completion.

In the meantime, the historic Bond Wing is the most suitable location for what has become an intrinsic part of St. Michael’s identity. The statue has stood in a hospital entrance for almost as long as the hospital has been open.

In the late 1890s, the Sisters of St. Joseph – who founded the hospital in 1892 – purchased the statue from a second-hand store on Queen Street for $49 with money they had saved from selling old newspapers. It was blackened with dirt and soot, but they cleaned it carefully and revealed the marble beneath.

“For the sisters, setting the statue of St. Michael at the entrance was like placing the cornerstone of the hospital,” said Filomena Machado, St. Michael’s director of mission and values. “The angel made it feel like home.”

   Feast day: Sept. 29

Patron saint of: grocers, mariners, paratroopers, police and sickness

Height: 1.5 metres

Weight: Approximately 680 kilograms

When the angel was relocated to the Cardinal Carter lobby almost a century later, the movers found a puzzling inscription: the word “Pietrasanta” – a Tuscan town whose marble was used by Michelangelo – was found chiselled in its back. But the statue’s sculptor, where and when it was carved and how it came to a pawn shop in Toronto continue to be a mystery.

Nonetheless, its value to those who visit the hospital endures.

“It’s crucial the angel can be found easily by staff, patients and families,” said Machado. “Regardless of a person’s system of faith, the statue of St. Michael is a symbol of healing and hope. It brings a spiritual comfort to anyone who needs it.”

About St. Michael's Hospital

St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in 27 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, care of the homeless and global health are among the hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael's Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.