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The Diocese of Salford


Welcome to the Cathedral

Welcome to St John's Cathedral, Salford.

Salford Cathedral, dedicated to St John the Evangelist, was opened on 9th August 1848. Bishop George Brown sang the Solemn High Mass and Bishop Nicholas Wiseman gave a ninety-minute sermon. It was the first Catholic church to be built in cruciform shape since the Reformation.

The foundation stone of this Cathedral, the Mother Church of the Diocese of Salford, was laid on Whit Thursday, May 1844, by Bishop James Sharples, Vicar Apostolic of the Lancashire District.

The Cathedral architect was Matthew Ellison Hadfield of Weightman, Hadfield and Goldie of Sheffield. Hadfield greatly admired the style of architecture favoured by Gothic builders of the 13th and 14th centuries. For the Cathedral's West Front and nave, he looked to Howden Church, Yorkshire, and for the choir and sanctuary to the Benedictine Abbey of Selby, also in Yorkshire. For the lofty spire he emulated the 15th-century (and currently Anglican) church of St Mary Magdalene in Newark-on-Trent and his design for the groined roof was inspired by that of the Church of St James at Li├Ęge, Belgium.

The bishop is traditionally parish priest of his cathedral, but because he is responsible for the whole diocese, it is usual for the cathedral to have a priest who administers and serves the cathedral parish on behalf of the bishop. The priest who undertakes this responsibility is the cathedral dean.

The cathedral is where the bishop has his ‘cathedra’ or ‘chair of authority’ which is where the word ‘cathedral’ comes from. It is the role of the dean of the cathedral to look after the interests of the cathedral itself and its parish on behalf of the bishop.