St Patrick's Church

St Patrick's Church
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

St Patrick's Church

Located on a south-facing slope overlooking Edinburgh's Cowgate, the grand facade of this Roman Catholic church belies its more modest origins as the Cowgate Chapel, built in 1772-4 for the Scottish Episcopal Church. The church was sold to a Relief Presbyterian congregation in 1811, when the Episcopalians moved to the New Town, and sold once again in 1856 to serve a growing Roman Catholic community.

Dedicated to St. Patrick at that time, the original two-storey rectangular chapel, with its semi-octagonal apse and tower with octagonal belfry, was soon extended. A pedimented porch was added in 1890 and a new sanctuary built to the north in 1898. The grand facade, with its deep central arched entrance, was the work of Reginald Fairlie (1883 - 1952) in 1929.

The much-altered interior is on a grand scale and Neo-Classical, featuring wall panels dating from 1774 on the theme of the Old Testament by Edinburgh artist Alexander Runciman (1736-85). His Ascension was later painted over and is being restored. The Chapel of the Resurrection, formerly dedicated to the Sacred Heart, was re-dedicated by the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Pablo Puente, on 25th October 2003. On the same date, a shrine to the Venerable Margaret Sinclair (1900-25) was blessed by the Archbishop and Cardinal Keith O'Brien (b.1938). Sinclair was amongst the many poor parishioners of St. Patrick's who lived in the crowded and insanitary conditions of the Cowgate.

Other notable features of the church are the large baroque marble font and the stained-glass, exhibiting abstract designs and dating from the late 19th century.

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