Immaculate Conception Church

During the first two centuries of colonization of Newfoundland, Roman Catholics were forbidden to practice their faith on the island. In fact, in 1755 when Govenor  Dorril heard that a mass had been celebrated in secrecy in Harbour Grace he ordered that Charles D. Garland, local justice of the Peace should burn the house in which the mass had been celebrated and then arrest the priest. Luckily enough, the priest in question, Father McNamara, was able to escape to St. Pierre.

At the end of the 18th century Catholic Emancipation laws were passed in England and in 1784 Bishop O'Donel landed in St. John's. He sat up a mission in Harbour Grace in 1786 and the first services were conducted at private homes. Then when the arrival of Father Ewer in 1806 the first Catholic chapels were built in the area.

The first nuns took up residence in Harbour Grace in 1832 and the first cornerstone for a new cathedral was laid by Bishop Mullock from St. John's 20 years later.

The cathedral, called the Church or the Immaculate Conception, was modeled after St. Peter's in Rome, in the Romanesque fashion. It was constructed almost entirely of stone.

The cathedral was initially designed to face Harvey Street but when it was decided that its magnificent entrance should look towards the harbour, a school and a bell tower had to be removed.

The building incorporated the old church built by a former priest Father Charles Dalton. With the establishment of the diocese at Harbour Grace, Father Dalton's nephew, John Dalton became Harbour Grace's first Bishop.

Although the cathedral was consecrated in 1868, it was far from completed. When in 1870, Father Carfagnni, a native of Italy became Harbour Grace's second bishop, he was responsible for much of the remaining work on the cathedral. Being an artist man himself, Bishop Carfagnni stayed in Harbour Grace for 10 years and unfortunately he lost his popularity before leaving.

In 1889 while the Rt. Reverend Ronald MacDonald was Bishop at Harbour Grace the first cathedral was entirely destroyed by fire. The modern day Church of the Immaculate Conception, an elegant Gothic structure was quickly completed and consecrated on November 8, 1899.

Season: Jan 1 - Dec 31

Location: Water Street, Harbour Grace

Mailing Address:
General Delivery
Harbour Grace, NL, A0A 2M0

Telephone: 709-596-6182

Fax: 709-596-2235


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