Saint John Heritage
A stunning artistic tribute to beloved women
The massive stained glass windows in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Saint John are exceptional examples of late 19th-century Bavarian stained glass. Both are world class monuments to women with very humble beginnings.
The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Saint John was built with the blood, sweat, and tears of thousands of newly arrived Irish in the mid-1800s. As with any group, leaders emerged to advocate for and guide the Irish community. One of the most important community leaders of the time, Timothy Warren Anglin was the donor of one of the cathedral's original stained glass windows.
Who was Timothy Anglin?
Timothy Anglin wasn't your typical 1840s Irish immigrant.
Unlike most Irish arrivals of the day, the majority of whom were poor and lacked any advanced education, Anglin was a 26-year-old, classically-educated middle class Irishman from Clonakilty, Co. Cork. Back in Ireland, Anglin had prepared for a career in the law but the Potato Famine wiped out his family's fortunes. He was forced him to abandon those plans to take up a position as schoolteacher in his home town. With limited opportunities for a young man such as himself in Ireland, he made for the New World.
A community leader emerges
Anglin arrived in Saint John in 1849 just weeks before the July 12, 1849 Orange Day riots-- a clash between Catholic and Protestants that proved to be the most violent incident in New Brunswick history. Having just emigrated from a country where religious persecution and political tensions were commonplace, Anglin wrote a letter to the editor of the Saint John daily newspaper, decrying the violence and calling for tolerance. He held government authorities accountable for not stepping in to calm the tensions before violence erupted.
Anglin's published letter was enough to immediately elevate him as unofficial spokesperson for the Irish community in Saint John. By August 4 of that year, Anglin had launched his own weekly newspaper, the Saint John Morning Freeman, with a mandate to represent and advocate for the Irish Catholic community. He quickly rose to prominence in political and business circles, becoming one of Saint John's most successful citizens.
Anglin was a key member of the community involved in planning and erecting Saint John's Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. In his early thirties and newly married at the time, he was to become one of the church's most significant benefactors.
Anglin's marriage in 1853
In November 1853, at age 31, Anglin married Margaret O'Regan, herself also originally of Clonakilty, Co. Cork. They resided, together with Margaret's sister Ellen, on Peters Street, near the Saint John Daily Freeman offices. Peters Street wasn't a posh area and suffered drainage issues that were common throughout the city. The base of the street was a bog.
The newlyweds and Ellen O'Regan likely lived a very modest lifestyle as Anglin's business interests grew. Timothy and Margaret welcomed a daughter in 1855 and named her Mary Ellen. The Bishop of the Diocese of Saint John stood as the child's godfather.
Tragically, both Margaret and her sister died within the next few years. Ellen died in 1855 and Margaret died in 1859. The New Brunswick archives contain little information about their deaths, aside from brief death notices which appeared in local papers.
Before he had reached his 40th birthday, Anglin had lost the two women who were central to his life in Saint John.
A spectacular tribute to a beloved wife and mother
Margaret Anglin and Ellen O'Regan died during the earliest years of the Cathedral's presence in Saint John. While the walls had been erected and the roof laid by 1855, the stained glass windows had not yet been installed.
Memorial stained glass windows were a common way to finance the production and installation of church windows. The windows in the Cathedral's transepts are two of its largest and original to the Cathedral. They were sponsored by Timothy Anglin and Henry McCullough, both members of the Cathedral's inaugural building committee and both widowed relatively soon after having wed.
These and all the Cathedral's windows were created by the Bavarian Glasswerks manufacturer, one of most renowned stained glass makers in the world. These magnificent creations were reputed to be the equal of any in the finest cathedrals in Europe.
The window commissioned by Anglin is a magnificent tribute to two immigrant Irish women, one a beloved wife and mother and the other her cherished sister. The McCollough window pays tribute to that man's wife, the mother of their children whose names are in a lower frame of the massive work of stained glass art depicting St. Patrick and other saints of Ireland.
Beautiful tributes both to two beloved mothers of yesteryear. A lasting legacy for everyone to appreciate today.
Lynn Forbes Gautier
Lynn is the Executive Director of the Cathedral Heritage Foundation. A lifelong traveler, Lynn loves to visit old cities and appreciates a society’s commitment to preserving its traditions and built heritage.
We need your help.
We're raising money to repair the ceiling of Saint John's Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Every dollar counts when it comes to preserving one of New Brunswick's most important heritage buildings. It's a National Treasure! Please consider donating today.
A message to our American Friends
The Cathedral Heritage Foundation is supported by the American Fund for Charities, a US 501(c)(3) non-profit organization EIN 52-2109597. Donations from US taxpayers to the Cathedral Heritage Foundation and the Cathedral Restoration Project through the American Fund for Charities are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by US law. The Cathedral Heritage Foundation has been reviewed by the American Fund for Charities and has been determined eligible to receive contributions through the AFC.
If you are a US taxpayer and wish to support the Cathedral Heritage Foundation and the Cathedral Restoration Project, you may make a secure online donation at www.americanfund.info. Please be certain to identify the Cathedral Heritage Foundation as the beneficiary of your gift of support.
Following your donation, you will promptly be issued with the receipt necessary for income tax purposes.