Following an announcement in September, Saint Mary of the Isle Church, Douglas, Isle of Man will be elevated to cathedral status on Friday 3 November at 12 noon.
As a ‘co-cathedral’ to the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King, 80 miles away across the Irish Sea, it will be 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.
For the inauguration, the island will welcome 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.
Dignitaries from the Manx Government and from Douglas City Council will attend as well as ecumenical partners and parishioners from across the island.
During the ceremony the Apostolic Nuncio will read a decree from Pope Francis elevating the Church to the status of cathedral and will install Archbishop Malcolm in his chair, or cathedra, which the name cathedral comes from.
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.
“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.”
Canon Tony O’Brien, Cathedral Dean at the Metropolitan Cathedral added: “We at the Metropolitan Cathedral are delighted with the announcement of the co-cathedral. It will strengthen the links between the Isle of Man and the rest of the archdiocese.
“In due cause, we will have an artefact and photograph of St Mary’s within our own Cathedral, as will St Mary’s of the senior Cathedral on the mainland as a reminder that both are co-cathedrals for the archdiocese.”
You can watch the inauguration ceremony live here: Manx Catholic – The Roman Catholic Church on the Isle of Man