St Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh (Roman Catholic)

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St Mary's Metropolitan Cathedral
St Mary's Metropolitan Cathedral (of the Assumption)
Edinburgh catholic cathedral.jpg
St Mary's Metropolitan Cathedral, Edinburgh
St Mary's Metropolitan Cathedral is located in Edinburgh city centre
St Mary's Metropolitan Cathedral
St Mary's Metropolitan Cathedral
Shown within Edinburgh
Coordinates: 55°57′22″N 3°11′16″W / 55.9561°N 3.1877°W / 55.9561; -3.1877
LocationEdinburgh, Midlothian
DenominationRoman Catholic
Former name(s)St Mary's Chapel (1814)
StatusMetropolitan Cathedral (of the Province of St Andrews and Edinburgh)
Associated peopleSir Arthur Conan Doyle christened; under Charles Hargitt The Edinburgh Royal Choral Union (1858), under Arthur Oldham The Edinburgh Festival Chorus and The Scottish Opera Chorus were founded with a nucleus from the Cathedral Choir.
Heritage designationListed B
Architect(s)James Gillespie Graham
Years built1814
ArchdioceseSt Andrews and Edinburgh
ProvinceSt Andrews and Edinburgh
ArchbishopLeo Cushley
Director of musicMichael Ferguson
Organist(s)Simon Leach

The Metropolitan Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption, also known as St Mary's Metropolitan Cathedral, is a Roman Catholic church in Edinburgh, Scotland. It is the seat of the Archbishop of Saint Andrews and Edinburgh and the mother church of Scots Catholicism.[1] The cathedral church is located at the East End of New Town in the city centre.


The Chapel of St Mary's was opened in 1814, and was originally designed by James Gillespie Graham. The church was considerably embellished over the years, and in 1878 on the restoration of the Scottish hierarchy it became the pro-cathedral of the new Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh. It was renamed the Metropolitan Cathedral on 5 July 1886 with all the rights and privileges appertaining to such a church. It contains the National Shrine of St. Andrew.[2]

Pope John Paul II visited St Mary's in May 1982 as part of his pastoral visit to Scotland.


The cathedral was designed in 1813-1814 in the neo-perpendicular style by James Gillespie Graham, with additional designs by Augustus Pugin.[3][4]

In 1892 a fire at the neighbouring Theatre Royal required changes to the cathedral. Arches were made in the side walls and aisles were added on both sides, designed by John Biggar. The sanctuary was extended backwards by three bays of arches.[5]

The war memorial and high altar were added in 1921, designed by Reginald Fairlie. A baldachino was added in 1927.[3] In 1932 the height of the roof was increased by Reid and Forbes.[5]

In the 1970s the front of the cathedral was opened up due to the demolition of tenement buildings. The porch and baptistery were replaced by a larger porch, designed by T. Harley Haddow, and the sanctuary was remodelled to meet the requirements of the Second Vatican Council.[5]


The Schola Cantorum has eight singers and singes a wide range of sacred music including plainchant, renaissance polyphony and modern compositions. In addition, there is a mixed-ability cathedral choir.[6]

A new organ was installed in 2008, built by Matthey Copley and having 4,000 pipes.[5]

The Director of Music is Michael Ferguson, who also teaches at the University of St Andrews and is a composer.[6] The organist is Simon Leach.[7]

Concerts and recitals were held in the cathedral during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe from 2009 to 2016.[8]

Current clergy[edit]

  • Mgr Patrick Burke, VG (administrator); Fr Jamie McMorrin
  • Fr Tadeusz Puton SAC (non-resident), Chaplain of the Polish Mission[9]

Parish organisation[edit]

From 2017 the many parishes in Edinburgh have been organised into clusters to better coordinate their resources. St. Mary's Cathedral is one of four parishes in Cluster 1 along with Ss Ninian and Triduana, St Patrick and St. Albert.[10]

Cafe Camino[edit]

The cathedral formerly operated a cafe in an adjoining building. It was used as a venue as part of the Free Fringe at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh". Retrieved 21 June 2012.
  2. ^ "National Shrine of St. Andrew". St Mary's RC Cathedral. Archived from the original on 11 August 2013.
  3. ^ a b "Edinburgh, 4 Broughton Street, St Mary's Roman Catholic Cathedral". Canmore. Historic Environment Scotland. Retrieved 14 May 2019.
  4. ^ Gifford, John; McWilliam, Colin; Walker, David; Wilson, Christopher (March 1991). The Buildings of Scotland - Edinburgh. Yale University Press. pp. 278–280. ISBN 978-0-300-09672-9.
  5. ^ a b c d "Cathedral history". St Mary's Catholic Cathedral Edinburgh. Retrieved 14 May 2019.
  6. ^ a b "Cathedral choir". St Mary's Catholic Cathedral Edinburgh. Retrieved 14 May 2019.
  7. ^ "Cathedral organ". St Mary's Catholic Cathedral Edinburgh. Retrieved 14 May 2019.
  8. ^ "St Mary's Metropolitan Cathedral". Edinburgh Guide. Retrieved 23 March 2016.
  9. ^ "Polska Misja Katolicka w Szkocji" (in Polish). Retrieved 21 June 2012.
  10. ^ "Parish clusters" (PDF). Retrieved 26 October 2017.
  11. ^ "Cafe Camino". Edinburgh Guide. Retrieved 22 March 2016.

External links[edit]