The first Mass was said in Palmerston North by Father Delphin Moreau, a French Marist Priest, who had walked from Otaki to say this Mass on St Patrick’s Day, 17th March 1872. There were six families present in the surveyor’s office in the corner of the present Square.

Father Moreau came to live in the Manawatu Area in 1875, and so the Parish of St Patrick’s was formed. He built his first church in Broad Street (later Broadway Avenue) in 1877. A second St Patrick’s Church was opened on the same site in 1890, before the third St Patrick’s Church was opened on its present site further down Broadway Avenue in 1925. Father James MacManus was appointed Parish Priest in 1913 and he was responsible for erecting and maintaining this building until 1962.

The Wellington firm of Clere and Clere were the architects and structural engineers. Frederick Clere was one of the foremost ecclesiastical architects of the time. The most striking feature externally is the lofty tower surmounted by three crosses, rising to 50 metres.

Features of the Building

The Gathering Area

This building, combining a gathering area/lounge and kitchen, was opened in 2001 by the first Bishop of Palmerston North, Bishop Peter Cullinane. The gathering area is based on that of a chapter house found in a monastery – circular with eight walls. It leads into the foyer of St Patrick’s Church, which became the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit in 1980, when the new Diocese of Palmerston North was founded. This foyer contains a large crucifix from the second church (1890-1925). It also has the start of 25 Māori carvings, gifted to the Cathedral when the building was renovated and extensively maintained in 1988, to make it serve the function necessary with the changes brought in by Vatican Two. This first carving represents Christ and the Vicar of Christ-Peter the Fisherman bringing Christ as a life-giving, all-embracing net cast to bring all others to Him.

The Nave

The interior of the building is in conformity with unadorned Gothic design and is truly beautiful. The great height of the arched roof to which the 14 great fluted columns ascend, presents an appearance of majesty and power.

On entering, the impression is one of the tranquil beauty of the space; the subtle warm blending of colour in carpets, upholstery, and stained glass windows, the proportions throughout in balance with the arches and the height of the columns supporting the warm wood of the vaulted ceiling. The pews (with beautiful Māori carvings) are arranged to foster a sense of community and are in close proximity on either side of the sanctuary which brings the people closer to the central focus of the Mass with the priest at the altar. The 10 stained glass windows, which dominate the walls are parables from St Luke’s Gospels. These are all from F. X. Zettler’s Studio of Munich, Germany. At the back of the sanctuary is the marble memorial altar, dedicated to Monsignor James MacManus. It is made up of 200 pieces of Italian Marble.

On either sides of the memorial altar are etched glass screens depicting the symbolic flames of Pentecost. The Cathedral’s name is well remembered by this depiction of fire.

In the sanctuary is the altar, crafted out of heart rimu, as is all the church furniture. The Cathedral is on the left in this area. It has on each side of it significant Māori carvings: Moses, as the one who received the Law, and Solomon renowned for his wisdom, illustrate Old Testament figures central to modern day episcopal ministry.

On the right side of the sanctuary is to be found the baptistry. Incorporated within the design of the renovation is a tiled immersion pool, covered, but easily opened to allow full immersion baptisms at the Easter Vigil and other occasions.

The Lady Chapel

To the right of the nave is The Lady Chapel, in the centre of which is a carving of the Madonna and child, made from a solid block of native kauri. It captures a joyful and realistic depiction of motherhood. The stained glass windows here come from the Harry Clark Studio of Dublin. The work of this studio is known world wide for the delicacy of design, richness of colour and the filigree nature of the paintwork. These windows depict the Immaculate Conception, the meeting of Joachim and Anna, the Presentation and the Espoused. On the right is a modern window designed and made by the South Island stained glass expert, Graham Stewart, presented by Bishop Owen Dolan, depicting the Annunciation.

The Day Chapel

Continuing behind the memorial altar is the 40 seat Day Chapel, providing a setting for weekday Masses. On either side of the altar is a rimu screen with fabric panels of chintz on which the design is hand appliqu≥d with duplon silks. The designs were influenced by a verse from Isaiah (Ch 4:2) —For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace; the mountains and hills shall break forth before you into singing and all trees of the field shall clap their hands.— They also incorporate elements of the Diocese. Around the walls are the Stations of the Cross %u2206 the brass plaques from Rome and the marble recycled from the altar rails. Above are three fine stained glass windows from the Harry Clark Studio. To the left is Christ the King and to the right, Mary Queen of Heaven. Higher still is the rose window and above the sacristy door is the Nativity, all Harry Clark windows.

The Blessed Sacrament Chapel

To the left side is the Blessed Sacrament Chapel containing the tabernacle. Its brass doors, inside the chapel, signify the central devotion and symbolise the Hebrew Ark of the Covenant.

Next to this chapel is the Reconciliation Room and sanctuary lamp.

The Gallery

Above the entrance to the nave is the choir loft containing the pipe organ, rebuilt and expanded in 1991.

Unseen in the tower is the Cathedral bell made by Vickers and sons Ltd in Sheffield England in 1893. It was the original fire bell for Palmerston North and is one of the best of its type left in the world.

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