A Catholic church in the Isle of Man has been granted cathedral status by Pope Francis.
The Church of Saint Mary of the Isle located in Douglas will become the first Catholic co-cathedral in the British Isles, sharing the role with the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King in Liverpool. Both buildings are part of the Archdiocese of Liverpool.
Co-cathedrals exist when two dioceses, each with its own cathedral, are merged or when a single diocese spans two civil jurisdictions.
A co-cathedral is a cathedral church which shares its function with another cathedral, often in another city. The Catholic church is believed to have more than 320 co-cathedrals – 140 of them in Italy alone.
Monsignor John Devine, parish priest of St Mary of the Isle, said he welcomes the move, after a year-long process to get to this point :
“I am delighted that St Mary of the Isle has been granted cathedral status, it is wonderful news for Catholics across the island.
“It is not just an honour for Douglas, but it acknowledges the unique faith story of the Isle of Man.
“Christianity in the Isle of Man traces its roots to the time of St Patrick and St Maughold in the 5th century. But there is limited appreciation of the unique history and traditions of the Manx Church in the rest of the archdiocese. Similarly,few of the island’s Catholics identify with Liverpool. However, rather than separating them further, the granting of co-cathedral status to St Mary’s will raise consciousness in Liverpool to the riches of the Manx church.
“The permanent presence of the Archbishop’s seat at St Mary’s will also serve as a reminder to the people of the island that the Archbishop of Liverpool is their Archbishop, too.”
The Archbishop of Liverpool, Most Rev Malcolm McMahon said:
“It’s with great joy that St Mary of the Isle has been granted cathedral status. The Isle of Man is a significant part of our archdiocese, it constitutes one third of its land mass and the island’s Catholic community has increasing diversity with parishioners coming from many different parts of the world. It is fantastic that we can acknowledge this with the announcement of a co-cathedral – a status that is rare in the Catholic Church. It is something that everyone on the island will take great pride in.”