News from around the Archdiocese of Liverpool
Golden Jubilee of the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King
In 1853 Edward Welby Pugin was instructed to draw plans for a gothic Cathedral to be sited in the grounds of St Edward's College in Everton and in 1857 Bishop Alexander Goss opened the Lady Chapel of the Cathedral but the project lapsed because of the cost of new parishes and the provision of schools in the diocese.
In 1922 Archbishop Frederick William Keating began a fund for a memorial to his predecessor Archbishop Thomas Whiteside. Archbishop Richard Downey succeeded him in 1928 and in 1930 the Archdiocese purchased the nine acre site of the former Workhouse on Brownlow Hill. Sir Edwin Lutyens was chosen as the architect and on Whit Monday, 5 June 1933, the foundation stone was laid. At the suggestion of Pope Pius XI the Cathedral was to be dedicated to Christ the King.
The Lutyens design would have dominated the Liverpool skyline; the height from the lowest step of the western front to the top of the lantern was to have been 520 feet and a total of 53 altars would have lined the nave and transept, apses and sacristies. Building of the Crypt continued until 1941 when the war saw the cessation of the work. After the war the Crypt was completed and remains part of the present Cathedral, but the cost of the Lutyens Cathedral had risen to an impossible £27,000,000.
In 1953 Archbishop William Godfrey commissioned the architect Adrian Gilbert Scott, brother of the architect of the Anglican Cathedral, to produce a scaled down version of the Lutyens design with a budget of some £4,000,000, but within four years Archbishop Godfrey had been translated to Westminster and the project went no further.
Archbishop John Carmel Heenan became Archbishop of Liverpool in 1957 and in October 1959 he announced an architectural competition to produce a completely new building to seat 2,000, which would relate to the existing Crypt and be capable of construction within five years.
On 13 May 1967 the new Cathedral was consecrated by Bishop Augustine Harris, then Auxiliary Bishop of Liverpool.
The following day, the Feast of Pentecost, 14 May 1967, the completed Cathedral was opened with Mass celebrated by Bishop Harris, and the altar consecrated. The Papal Legate at the consecration was, most appropriately, Cardinal John Carmel Heenan then Archbishop of Westminster.