The Transept Vaults
Even though church construction was completed by 1919, Nincheri was only able to start its interior decoration in 1928. As usual, it was a question of money. Vangelisti wrote that they still didn’t have any money by then, but that they decided to go ahead with some the decoration because the new priest wanted to boost morale (maybe because they were no longer allowed to teach the Italian language at their school). The areas they first decided to decorate were the apse above the sanctuary and the four vaulted ceilings above each arm of the church.
The 1938 window called Jesus Among the Doctors refers to the events told in Luke 2:41–47:
On the west side of Saint-Léon-de-Westmount Church, there is a stained-glass window, completed in 1930, of Jesus calming a tempest that had risen on the Sea of Galilee while He was out fishing with his disciples. This story was recounted in three separate Gospels:
Built from 1918 to 1919, Montreal’s Italian church, Madonna della Difesa, was Guido Nincheri’s project from beginning to end: he designed its architecture, painted its frescoes and other murals, made the stained-glass windows, painted some of the paintings that adorn its walls, and designed most of the sculptures.
“The Most Beautiful Church in North America”
That’s what Father Oscar Gauthier (1873–1964) wanted when he started, in 1928, the Saint-Léon-de-Westmount decoration project. Father Gauthier, priest at the church from 1920 to 1951, had lived in Rome for a few years and was impressed by the art he found there. He too wanted a beautiful Italian church, a church decorated in the Renaissance style. Which is why he hired Nincheri.