St Marys Catholic Church Nelson

Contents

The first Catholic Mass in Nelson was held in May 1844. The Church’s first chapel was built on Sion Hill (now Shelbourne Street) at a cost of £40.

In 1850 the Catholic Church became a Parish in its own right and Father Antoine Garin was appointed to Nelson. He bought the acre of land, on which the Church stands today, for thirty five pounds.

The Church on Manuka Street, built 1856.[Catholic Church and School. Nelson Provincial Museum. Miscellaneous collection 6x8-2.
Click image to enlarge
St Marys Church, 2010 Andrew Hill
Click to enlarge

The first Church was built on the site in 1856. It was initially known as St Michael’s Church, but the name of the Church was changed to St Mary’s in June 1857. This building was destroyed by fire in 1881. The foundation stone of this Church was built into the west wall of the new Church, built 1882.

As plans had already been underway to build a new Church since 1878, funds were in place to accelerate these plans and replace the destroyed building. Donations came from West Coast miners and also the non-Catholics of Nelson.

The present St Marys, designed by Thomas Turnbull of Wellington and built by Walter Good, was opened and blessed on 31 December 1882 by the Right Reverend Dr. Francis Redwood. The main structure of the church is supported on solid rock, concrete and Takaka marble. Its foundation stone, laid 1 January 1882, can be found in the Church. At the same time as, a time capsule was buried in the foundations: a sealed bottle containing copies of newspapers of the day - New Zealand Tablet, Nelson Evening Mail and Colonist, a number of 1881 coins and a parchment bearing an inscription.

St Mary’s Church. The Nelson Provincial Museum, Tyree Studio Collection: 176664. Click to enlarge

The stained glass windows are a feature with those in the south wall coming from France, the east wall windows from Munich, Germany and others have come from Birmingham, England and Melbourne, Australia. The pipe organ, from Holdaway and Frenchday of Melbourne, cost one hundred and fifty pounds.

The church bell was donated in 1867, but when hung, a defect in the metal was discovered, and the ringing caused consternation – the Fire Brigade and the people turning out in their numbers. The following year a new bell from France was bought for seventy pounds, and when rung was found to be loud and clear. Another bell was purchased from Dublin in 1912 and presented in memory of Hugh O’Beirne Esq. This bell is still in use today.

St Mary’s is classified as a Category A Historic Building. The church was renovated in 2000. Old Totara piles were replaced in the floor. Glass panelled Rimu partitions have been added, as well as extensive remodelling of the Sanctuary area and a new foyer beneath an extended choir loft.

 

2012

Sources used in this story

  • Clark, Diana (2007) St Mary's Parish, Manuka Street Nelson [pamphlet] Nelson, NZ: St Marys Archives
  • Harris, A. (1994)  The beauty of Your house: Nelson, N.Z. : St Mary's Parish

Want to find out more about the St Marys Catholic Church Nelson ? View Further Sources here.

Do you have a story about this subject? Find out how to add one here.

Comment on this story

Post your comment

Comments

No one has commented on this page yet.

RSS feed for comments on this page | RSS feed for all comments

Further sources - St Marys Catholic Church Nelson

Books

  • Clark, Diana (2007), St Mary's Parish, Nelson. Nelson, NZ: St Marys Archives
  • Harris, A. (1994)  The beauty of Your house: Nelson, N.Z. : St Mary's Parish
    http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/39968304
  • St Mary's Parish, Nelson, centenary, 1850-1950 : centennial souvenir. (1950) Nelson [N.Z.] : Enterprise Printing Co.
    http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/156751356

  • The Nelson Catholic Parish 1844-1994 (1994) St Mary's Parish, Nelson; St Mary's Church Archives.

 

Articles

 Papers Past

Web Resources