Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament

Built 1901-1905, the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament on Madras Street was designed by Francis William Petrie and was badly damaged in the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes.

Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, Barbadoes Street
Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, Barbadoes Street. © Christchurch Star

The Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament was designed by Francis William Petre (1847-1918) who was a founding member of the New Zealand Institute of Architects and who specialised in church design.

Prior to 1900 the site had been occupied by the Roman Catholic Pro-Cathedral (which was removed to Ferry Road). The foundation stone was laid on 10 February 1901, and the contractors, J and W Jamieson, completed the building in 1905. The Cathedral was blessed and opened on 12 February 1905.

To conserve the fabric of the building, an extensive programme of cleaning and repair was undertaken in 1970. As part of the conservation project, the interior was rearranged and refurbished to meet the needs of contemporary liturgical practice. This was done under the direction of Sir Miles Warren, of Warren and Mahoney.

Three bishops, Bishop John Joseph Grimes (1842-1915), Bishop Edward Michael Joyce (1904–1964) and Bishop John Jerome Cunneen (1932–2010), were interred in the cathedral.

Following the earthquake of September 2010, the Cathedral was closed to the public while further strengthening works took place. The 22 February 2011 earthquake did further damage to the Cathedral, which the subsequent aftershocks exacerbated. Both west towers were severely affected, the south tower collapsing and the north one losing its top. Much of that façade also collapsed and the dome twisted on its masonry.

The decision was made to remove the dome, though in the wake of the aftershocks of 13 June 2011 the original plan - to remove it in one piece by crane - had to be abandoned and it was cut into sections. The decorative inner dome was still able to be removed intact, however. Some demolition work has taken place on the northern end of the building. In August 2019 a decision was made to demolish the remaining structure.


Images of the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament.