LEICESTER, United Kingdom – Located in the Irish Sea between Great Britain and Ireland, the famed Isle of Man is fiercely proud of its history and culture, expressed in part by efforts to keep alive the Manx Gaelic language which is native to the island.
Thus it’s only fitting that when the island’s Saint Mary Church is declared a cathedral on Nov. 3, its pastor has said the “flavor of Manx” will be part of the event.
“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,” said Monsignor John Devine. “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,” he added.
“The service has been planned to have a Manx flavor. The Lord’s prayer will be said in Manx Gaelic and the Manx national anthem will be sung,” Devine continued. “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 Isle of Man is a small British Crown Dependency located between Ireland and Great Britain. Saint Mary was announced as a cathedral on Sept. 22, a little over a year after the late Queen Elizabeth II granted Douglas, the capital, city status in June 2022.
The church will be a co-cathedral with the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King of the Archdiocese of Liverpool in England, and will be the first Catholic co-cathedral in the British Isles.
Liverpool Archbishop Malcolm McMahon will preside at the Mass creating the cathedral. A decree from Pope Francis will also be read during the ceremony.
The Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain, Archbishop Miguel Maury Buendía, will the decree from Pope Francis installing the new office.
The Archdiocese of Liverpool also said the Canons of the Metropolitan Cathedral and bishops from across England and Wales will attend the ceremony, as will dignitaries from the Manx Government and from Douglas City Council along with ecumenical partners and parishioners from across the island.
The Anglican Dean of the Cathedral Church of Saint German in Peel, the only other cathedral on the island, will also feature in the service.
The Anglican Bishop of Sodor and Man, Right Revered Peter Eagles, said the new Catholic cathedral represented the “strong ecumenical relationships” present on the Isle of Man.
“It has often occurred to me that Saint Mary of the Isle has a dignity and spaciousness that is as appropriate for a cathedral as for a parish church and I fully support the bestowing of co-cathedral status,” he said.
Although co-cathedrals – typically present where a diocese has more than one ruling seat – are fairly common in the worldwide Catholic Church, the establishment in the Isle of Man is a historic designation, being the first in the British Isles.