Friday, February 11, 2011

Holy Trinity Cathedral now 100 years old.

Holy Trinity Cathedral in Kingston, Jamaica celebrated its 100th Anniversary on February 6, 2011. Hundreds turned out to witness the occasion.

On the retirement of Bishop Gordon, the Holy See selected Father John J. Collins, S.J., as Administrator Apostolic of the Vicariate of of Jamaica. Father Collins should have fallen heir to the stately brick-constructed Holy Trinity Church, boasting a seating capacity of eighteen hundred. Instead he fell heir to their ruins and rubble, to their cracked walls, gaunt pillars and roofless structures - the aftermath of the awful, destructive earthquake of January 14, 1907. In a matter of seconds Kingston was in ruins. Holy Trinity Church was utterly destroyed.

Soon after his consecration by the Holy See on October 28, 1907, Bishop John J. Collins spent some months in the United States collecting funds and furthering plans for the construction of the Holy Trinity Cathedral. Twenty thousand Catholics had no place to worship save one small chapel, St. Anne’s in western Kingston.

There was some difference of opinion as to whether it should be built on the ruins of old Holy Trinity Church or on a new and more promising site. As Kingston’s population shifted from the centre of the city, it was felt that a cathedral near the newly emerging residential areas of Franklin Pen, Allman Pen and Passmore Pen would serve the congregation more conveniently, since transportation was a problem for those who did not own carriages. Secondly, in February, 1908, a property at the eastern end of North Street known as “Colmar Estate” was for sale. “Colmar Estate” adjoining Winchester Park was purchased for the erection of the new cathedral.

The corner stone of the new edifice was laid on December 13, 1908. Two thousand people and all the priests of the Mission marched in the procession that led the Bishop to the spot. Four thousand were there assembled to hear the eloquent sermon preached by Father Patrick F.X. Mulry, after which, the vicar apostolic blessed the cornerstone. The work on the Cathedral advanced rapidly. Two years and one month later the church was completed and the day of its dedication fixed. It was an edifice that the Bishop and his people could view with pride and triumph. Romanasque, this massive reinforced concrete structure culminated in a copper-covered dome of eighty-five feet high. Supporting the dome were four huge concrete pillars, each twelve feet in diameter. The building covers an area of 12,600 square feet. The magnificent structure towers over the Liguanea plains with the Blue Mountains in the background. The cathedral is one of the most impressive ecclesiastical structure in the British West Indies.The interior decorations owe their conception to Brother Francis Schroen, a lay brother of the Maryland New York Province of the Society of Jesus.

The Cathedral was designed by Mr. Raymond F. Almiral of New York and Walker-Fyche Co. of Montreal built it. The High altar, Byzantine in style, was created from Carrara marble. The pipe organ is one of the oldest and largest in the English speaking Caribbean. Among the notable donors were Theo Byndloss, who spent well his 1160 pounds sterling to erect this sacred table and the Hon. Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Ward, C.G.M., Custos of Kingston, gave 1,453 pounds sterling for the great organ. The building was completed, decorated and furnished at a cost of about

Sunday February 5, 1911 was a triumphant day for Bishop Collins. Before him stood his monumental dream, the most magnificent, the largest, the costliest church in the British West Indies in which 3000 people gathered: 2,400 seated and 600 standing for its opening. The Jamaica National Heritage Trust declared this Cathedral a National Monument in 2000.

February 6, 2011 was celebrated as the magnificent cathedral was restored to its former glory with more to come as the funds become available.

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