St. Anne's Cathedral

Belfast, United Kingdom

St Anne's Cathedral is unusual in serving two separate dioceses (Connor and Down and Dromore).  The foundation stone being laid in 1899 by the Countess of Shaftesbury. The old parish church of St Anne by Francis Hiorne of 1776 had continued in use, up until 31 December 1903, while the new cathedral was constructed around it; the old church was then demolished. The Good Samaritan window, to be seen in the sanctuary, is the only feature of the old church to be retained in the cathedral. Initially, only the nave of the cathedral was built, and this was consecrated in 1904.

In 1924 it was decided to build the west front of the cathedral as a memorial to the Ulstermen and women who had served and died in the Great War. The foundation stone for this was laid in 1925 and the completed facade, to an amended design by the architect Sir Charles Archibald Nicholson, was dedicated in June 1927.

In the meantime, the central crossing, in which the choir sits, was built between 1922 and 1924. The Baptistery, to plans drawn up by the late W H Lynn, who had assisted Sir Thomas Drew, was dedicated in 1928, and the Chapel of the Holy Spirit, with its beautiful mosaics depicting Saint Patrick, was dedicated in 1932, the 1500th anniversary of the arrival of St Patrick in Ireland.

In 1941 the cathedral was almost destroyed by a German bomb, which caused extensive damage to surrounding properties. In 1955 work began on the construction of the ambulatory, at the east end of the cathedral. This work was dedicated in 1959, but it was not for another ten years that it was possible to begin work on the north and south transepts. The Troubles and inflation led to long delays and major problems with the financing of this work.

The south transept, containing the Chapel of Unity, and with the organ loft above, was dedicated in 1974, and the north transept, with the large Celtic cross designed by John MacGeagh on the exterior, and housing the Chapel of the Royal Irish Rifles, was completed in 1981.

In April 2007 a 40-metre stainless steel spire was installed on top of the cathedral. Named the 'Spire of Hope', the structure is illuminated at night and is part of a wider redevelopment planned for the Cathedral Quarter. The base section of the spire protrudes through a glass platform in the cathedral's roof directly above the choir stalls, allowing visitors to view it from the nave.

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Details

Founded: 1899
Category: Religious sites in United Kingdom

Rating

4.3/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Paul Brogan (16 months ago)
It's a fine cathedral (check out the pink sandstone) if a little modern trying to look old, with calling in and seeing. They put on events also, which is pretty cool.
Michael English (16 months ago)
An impressive building. Many interesting artefacts. The Sunday services are musically very good.
Chris Taylor (16 months ago)
Best to time your visit with the cathedral arts festival or culture night. Both great experiences that go beyond the religious. fabulous architecture, a lot of history and a modern management make this one of Belfast's go to tourist attractions.
Peter Lyons (16 months ago)
Belfast's Cathedral that is a wonderful building. It can be used as a church on Sundays or visited during the week by paying a small admission fee. There is lots to see including the baptism font and the stained glass.
Karen Mckeogh (17 months ago)
Beautiful building... Staff friendly and welcoming even if you just call in for a quick look.. Didn't have time for a full tour but its only £5 so may do it another tine. All the money goes on the upkeep. There's a nice wee shop with reasonably priced items too.
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Hagios Demetrios

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The first church on the spot was constructed in the early 4th century AD, replacing a Roman bath. A century later, a prefect named Leontios replaced the small oratory with a larger, three-aisled basilica. Repeatedly gutted by fires, the church eventually was reconstructed as a five-aisled basilica in 629–634. This was the surviving form of the church much as it is today. The most important shrine in the city, it was probably larger than the local cathedral. The historic location of the latter is now unknown.

The church had an unusual shrine called the ciborium, a hexagonal, roofed structure at one side of the nave. It was made of or covered with silver. The structure had doors and inside was a couch or bed. Unusually, it did not hold any physical relics of the saint. The ciborium seems to have been a symbolic tomb. It was rebuilt at least once.

The basilica is famous for six extant mosaic panels, dated to the period between the latest reconstruction and the inauguration of the Byzantine Iconoclasm in 730. These mosaics depict St. Demetrius with officials responsible for the restoration of the church (called the founders, ktetors) and with children. An inscription below one of the images glorifies heaven for saving the people of Thessalonica from a pagan Slavic raid in 615.

Thessaloniki became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1430. About 60 years later, during the reign of Bayezid II, the church was converted into a mosque, known as the Kasımiye Camii after the local Ottoman mayor, Cezeri Kasım Pasha. The symbolic tomb however was kept open for Christian veneration. Other magnificent mosaics, recorded as covering the church interior, were lost either during the four centuries when it functioned as a mosque (1493–1912) or in the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917 that destroyed much of the city. It also destroyed the roof and upper walls of the church. Black-and-white photographs and good watercolour versions give an idea of the early Byzantine craftsmanship lost during the fire.

Following the Great Fire of 1917, it took decades to restore the church. Tombstones from the city"s Jewish cemetery - destroyed by the Greek and Nazi German authorities - were used as building materials in these restoration efforts in the 1940s. Archeological excavations conducted in the 1930s and 1940s revealed interesting artifacts that may be seen in a museum situated inside the church"s crypt. The excavations also uncovered the ruins of a Roman bath, where St. Demetrius was said to have been held prisoner and executed. A Roman well was also discovered. Scholars believe this is where soldiers dropped the body of St. Demetrius after his execution. After restoration, the church was reconsecrated in 1949.