Hundreds packed into Saint Leonard Church on Sunday, December 17th as Cardinal Sean O’Malley joined the Franciscan Friars to reopen the iconic church and perform the consecration of the new altar. On hand were Fr. Antonio Nardoianni, Fr. Claude Scrima from St. Leonard’s and dozens of local clergy along with a standing room only crowd at the restored church that recently underwent a $3+ million and year-long renovation project.
The renovation touched nearly all aspects of the historic structure including the refurbishment of the stained-glass windows, gilt ceiling and frescoes throughout the church. New lighting fixtures make the church brighter along with a white porcelain tile floor. Cherry, handmade pews were custom designed and are now arranged around a center aisle. The marble altar was once located downstairs in Saint Antony Chapel and has been completely restored. Also, a new Baptismal font and podium are made out of white marble. Lastly, the church has been upgraded with accessibility features and new restrooms.
It is customary to erect an altar over the graves of martyrs’ tombs, as in the ancient Church, where Mass was celebrated in catacombs. Relics embedded under the altar of St. Leonard Church include:
- St. Vincent M. Strambi, 18th century bishop
- St. Paul of the Cross: Founder of the Passionists congregation
- St. Gabriel of the Sorrowful Mother: Religious
- St. Gemma Galgani: Virgin and Mystic
- St. Maria Goretti: Virgin and Martyr
At the conclusion of the Mass, a special presentation was made by members of the Saint Joseph Society who have donated $1 million toward the restoration of the church. Benefactor Nick Ferreri also challenged Boston’s business community toward a $1 million donation and matching program. Following the Mass and presentations, a reception was held complete with a cake in the shape of St. Leonard’s Church.