Cathedral Inauguration

Monsignor John Devine, Dean of the Cathedral Church of St Mary of the Isle, said:

“The inauguration was a wonderful celebration on Friday 3 November.

It was an honour for His Excellency Archbishop Miguel Maury Buendía to be here, the first time an Apostolic Nuncio has visited the island, as well as having Archbishop Malcolm, dignitaries from the Isle of Man Government and Douglas City Council and local ecumenical partners join us for the celebrations. Together with these there were canons of the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, visiting priests and archdiocesan officers. The Dean of St German’s Anglican cathedral in Peel also took a significant part in the service.

The service had a real Manx flavour. The Lord’s prayer was said in Manx Gaelic by the President of Tynwald and we sang the Manx national anthem. It was a joy to have children from St Mary’s Primary School sing for us – this was a real highlight.

The church was full. We had such positive feedback from our parishioners who told us just how proud and honoured they were to witness this historic event when their church became a cathedral.

We also had people watching the service online from all corners of the world, which shows what a momentous occasion it was. We are so grateful for all the support.”

Following an announcement in September, Saint Mary of the Isle Church, Douglas, Isle of Man was elevated to cathedral status on Friday 3 November 2023 at 12 noon.

The island welcomed the Archbishop of Liverpool, Malcolm McMahon OP, the Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain, Archbishop Miguel Maury Buendía, Canons of the Metropolitan Cathedral and bishops from across England and Wales.

During the ceremony the Apostolic Nuncio read a decree from Pope Francis elevating the Church to the status of cathedral and installed Archbishop Malcolm in his chair, or cathedra, which the name cathedral comes from. 

Dignitaries from the Manx Government and from Douglas City Council attended as well as ecumenical partners and parishioners from across the island.

Monsignor John Devine, parish priest of St Mary of the Isle, and Dean of the new cathedral, said of the celebrations: “The service has been planned to have a Manx flavour. The Lord’s prayer will be said in Manx Gaelic and the Manx national anthem will be sung. 

“It is set to be a joyous occasion celebrating both the ancient Celtic traditions of the Catholic Church on the island and its links to the church in Liverpool.” 

As a ‘co-cathedral’ to the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King, 80 miles away across the Irish Sea, it is the first Catholic co-cathedral in the British Isles. Co-cathedrals are rare in the Catholic Church, but can exist when two dioceses, each with its own cathedral, are merged or when a single diocese spans two distinct civil jurisdictions. 

The Church was elevated to cathedral status by Pope Francis following Douglas being awarded city status as part of the late Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee in June 2022.

This will raise consciousness of the Isle of Man within the Archdiocese of Liverpool. Letters of support from the President of Tynwald, Douglas City Council, the Anglican Bishop of Sodor and Man and the Dean of the Anglican Cathedral in Peel accompanied the petition to the Holy See seeking co-cathedral status.

Monsignor John added: “The Archbishop’s chair will remain permanently fixed in the new cathedral with its specially designed coat of arms incorporating both Manx and Archdiocesan symbols. It will be a constant reminder to the people on the island that they are part of the Archdiocese of Liverpool and the archbishop is their archbishop, too.  

“We’re also looking to commission two Manx artifacts, one for St Mary’s and the other in the Metropolitan Cathedral in Liverpool to show the link between the two co-cathedrals.”