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Church of Saint Mary in Douglas, Isle of Man, Elevated to Cathedral Status

The Church of Saint Mary in Douglas, Isle of Man, is now a cathedral, marking a special moment in the island’s Catholic history. 

Pope Francis declared this during a special service, emphasizing its role as a symbol of unity.

This designation of the church as a cathedral makes it a “co-cathedral” alongside Liverpool’s Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King. This unique status comes about as a result of the merging of both dioceses or when a single diocese spans two distinct civil jurisdictions. Notably, these two cathedrals now share the same bishop, making them the first such pair in the British Isles.

The announcement of cathedral status follows the recent confirmation of city status for Douglas, which took place during the Platinum Jubilee celebrations last year. The event was marked with great joy and unity, as it brought together not only the local Catholic community but also dignitaries from the church.

Archbishop Malcolm McMahon of Liverpool was in attendance at the service and had been an advocate for this change in status. Canons from the Metropolitan Cathedral and bishops from across England and Wales joined the celebration to show their support and unity with the Isle of Man.

In a significant moment during the service, Archbishop Miguel Maury Buendía, the Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain, installed Archbishop McMahon in a special chair within the cathedral. This chair was adorned with a specially crafted coat of arms, symbolizing the strong connection between the Liverpool Archdiocese and the Isle of Man.

The Parish priest, Monsignor John Devine, expressed the significance of the occasion, stating that it celebrated “the ancient Celtic traditions of the Catholic Church on the island and its links to the church in Liverpool.” He emphasized that it had been a “great day” for the families who have been part of the congregation for years and viewed it as a significant boost to the Catholic community on the island.

Archbishop McMahon reflected on the importance of this “landmark occasion,” which has already “strengthened the bonds of friendship” and “opened the door for the distinctive faith tradition of the island to be shared with the rest of the archdiocese.” He highlighted that the new cathedral status “serves as a permanent reminder to the people of the island that they are part of a much greater and universal worldwide church.”

The Archbishop expressed his hope that this development would hold great meaning for the people of the Isle of Man. He emphasized the importance of the new status for both the local community and the wider Catholic Church, underlining the unity and faith it represents.

The service featured the singing of the Isle of Man’s national anthem and the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer in the Manx language, highlighting the cultural and spiritual richness of the island. The fusion of traditions and faith was evident throughout the event, symbolizing the deep connection between the Catholic community on the Isle of Man and the church in Liverpool.

The Church of Saint Mary in Douglas now stands as a co-cathedral alongside Liverpool’s Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King. 

This historic moment shows the unity and rich history of the Catholic Church in the region, with Archbishop McMahon and other dignitaries from Liverpool and beyond celebrating this significant step. 

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