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St Mary's Metropolitan Cathedral

Located between Leith Street and York Place, at the top of Leith Walk and in the shadow of the St. James Centre, is St. Mary's Metropolitan Cathedral. Built in 1813 by James Gillespie Graham (1776 - 1855), the cathedral has been much altered since but remains a modest structure. This was the first new Roman Catholic chapel to be consecrated in Edinburgh since the Reformation. The site was chosen in 1801, by the Bishop of the time who had seen his Chapel in Blackfriars' Wynd burned by a mob.

In 1830, this new chapel was used by the deposed King Charles X of France and his family.

St Mary's was elevated to the status of a Cathedral in 1878 and remains the Cathedral Church of the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh. The handsome gable front, surmounted by pinnacles 21m (70 feet) high, is all that remains of that original chapel. Rebuilding behind the frontage began following a fire in 1891. In 1932, the roof was raised to create a greater feeling of space and, in the 1970s, a new porch was built on the site of the old Theatre Royal which once lay next to the cathedral until it burned down in 1946.

The inside is unusual, with a wide nave and a spectacular roof. A painting of the Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary as Queen of Heaven by the Belgian artist, Louis Beyart, lies above the Sanctuary Arch. Within the altar are two relics of St. Andrew; one came in 1879 and the other was gifted by Pope Paul VI in 1969, with the words "Saint Peter gives you his brother". Pope John Paul II visited the cathedral on 31st May 1982, during his tour of Scotland at the invitation of Cardinal Gordon Gray. A succession of Archbishops of St Andrews and Edinburgh and other senior clergy are buried in the vaults below the cathedral.

In front of the cathedral are three large sculptures by Sir Eduardo Paolozzi. Located here in 1991, the sculptures include a large stylised foot, which includes a Latin inscription intended to symbolise the links between Scotland and Italy.


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