History of the Basilica
In 1834, when Bishop Michael Anthony Fleming revealed his plan to erect a large and imposing stone church as a Cathedral for Newfoundland, St. John’s, was a small town of some 14,000 inhabitants, of whom about 10,000 were Catholic.
At that time, all of Newfoundland was a Vicariate Apostolic, under the jurisdiction of Bishop Fleming. The old Chapel, which had served as the Catholic Cathedral for all Newfoundland for over fifty years, was a small wooden building, erected on leased land on Henry Street, where the Star of the Sea Hall now stands. By 1834, the lease was running out, and the building was falling into ruin. It provided so little protection from the elements that those assisting at Mass were often exposed to pelting rain, freezing winds, or drifting snow. A more fitting sanctuary had to be erected for the offering of the Perpetual Sacrifice.
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