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Cathedral of St. Mary the Crowned

Cathedral of St. Mary the Crowned
Western façade of the Cathedral of St. Mary the Crowned.
Location 215 Main Street
Country  Gibraltar
Denomination Roman Catholic
Website Gib Cathedral
Former name(s) Iglesia de Santa Maria la Coronada y San Bernado
Founded 20 August 1462
Founder(s) Catholic Monarchs
Dedication St. Mary the Crowned
Dedicated 20 August 1462
Consecrated 20 August 1462
Past bishop(s) See list of Roman Catholic Bishops
Associated people Fr. Juan Romero de Figueroa
Status Cathedral
Functional status Active
Architect(s) Various
Architectural type Mixed
Style Mixed
Number of domes 1
Bishop(s) Mons. Ralph Heskett
Priest(s) Fr. Paul Bear

The Cathedral of Saint Mary the Crowned is a Roman Catholic cathedral in Gibraltar. It is the primary centre of Catholic worship in the Diocese of Gibraltar.


  • History 1
    • 15th century 1.1
    • 18th to 20th centuries 1.2
  • See also 2
  • Gallery 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


15th century

The original building of the current cathedral was built during the Spanish period. Just after the conquest of the city to the Moors, the main mosque was decreed to be stripped of its Islamic past[1] and consecrated as the parish church (named Santa Maria la Coronada y San Bernardo[2]). However, under the rule of the Catholic Monarchs, the old building was demolished and a new church was erected, in Gothic style. The cathedral's small courtyard is the remnant of the larger Moorish court of the mosque. The Catholic Monarchs' coat of arms was placed in the courtyard where it can still be seen today. The cathedral extended to the opposite side of what is now Main Street.[1]

18th to 20th centuries

The church of St. Mary the Crowned was the only Catholic church or institution that was not ransacked by the troops that took over the city in 1704. It was successfully protected by its staunch pastor, Juan Romero, his curate, and his bell-ringer.[3] Thus, it is the only place where Catholic worship has been taken place uninterruptedly from the definite Christian re-conquest of the town.

Due to the building being severely damaged during the 1779–1783 Great Siege, in 1790 the then Governor of Gibraltar Sir Robert Boyd offered to rebuild the cathedral in return for part of the land on which the building originally stood in order to re-route Main Street.[1] The route was re-modelled in 1801 so that Main Street could be straighter. (This drastic change has also been credited to the Governor, Charles O'Hara.[4]) The reconstruction took place in 1810 and the opportunity was also taken to widen Main Street. The clock tower was added in 1820 and in 1931 restoration work was carried out on the cathedral and the current west façade erected to replace the poorer one built in 1810.[1]

In 1881 the Church of St Mary's was the site of nearly fifty arrests as the Governor of Gibraltar sent police and reassigned soldiers to support Bishop Canilla as he attempted to enter his own church. A self-appointed "Committee of Elders" had said that they intended to take possession of the church and install their own "chief priest" against the will of the Governor and the Catholic church. Camilla was sent to his church on 2 March 1881 with police protection to install him in his church. When the new force came to the church they found it was occupied by 200 men and the police had to make four dozen arrests to establish order.[5]

Not only did Camilla now have possession of his church but he was also the owner as the governor arranged for the title deeds to be given to the new titular Bishop.[5]

Until the 19th century, anyone who died in Gibraltar had the right to be buried under the cathedral floor. Bishops are buried in a crypt beneath the statue of Our Lady of Europe.[1]

In 1943, Władysław Sikorski's coffin lay in state here, after his plane crashed into the sea just off Gibraltar.

See also

  • San Roque, Cádiz (The original statue of St Mary was moved there in 1704, following the British takeover of Gibraltar)



  1. ^ a b c d e History of the Cathedral of St Mary the Crowned.
  2. ^ "A Short History of the Diocese of Gibraltar". 
  3. ^ Jackson, William (1990). The Rock of the Gibraltarians. A History of Gibraltar (2nd ed.). Grendon, Northamptonshire, UK: Gibraltar Books. pp. 99–101.  
  4. ^ Benady, Tito (1996). The streets of Gibraltar : a short history. Grendon: Gibraltar Books. pp. 11–17.  
  5. ^ a b George Hills (1974). Rock of Contention. A History of Gibraltar. London: Robert Hale. pp. 392–396.  
  6. ^ 300 Years of British Gibraltar 1704-2004 by Peter Bond

External links

  • Cathedral information and photos of interior (from the Diocese of Gibraltar)
  • Illustrated article
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