St. Andrew's Catholic Church

More information on the History of the Church

St Andrew's Roman Catholic Cathedral, Dumfries, built in 1815, had been the seat of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Galloway since the restoration of the hierarchy in 1878. In 1947 the Archdiocese of Glasgow was reorganised and the suffragen Dioceses of Motherwell and Paisley were created. At the same time, some of the more southerly parishes of the original Glasgow Archdiocese were ceded to the Diocese of Galloway. As a result of this reorganisation the Catholic population of Galloway greatly increased in number and the centre of population shifted from Dumfries to Ayrshire. The Bishop of Galloway, in an attempt to be nearer to the greatest number of his people, moved his place of residence to Ayr in the 1950's, although he retained his Cathedral Church in Dumfries.

 Tragically, in May 1961, St. Andrew's Cathedral was ravaged by fire, and shortly afterwards the damaged building was demolished: all but the Spire and the St. Ann's Tower were removed. The decision was made to build a new Church over the old Cathedral crypt, but at the same time the Bishop petitioned Rome to move his Cathedral to Ayr - a petition that was granted.

The new St. Andrew's Church was built on the site of the old Cathedral and opened in 1964, one of two Roman Catholic churches in Dumfries. The new Church was built to a modern design using steel and concrete. Externally, the use of Locharbriggs red sandstone gives the outside a pleasing warm appearance. The gardens to the front of the Church have been created within the walls of the Nave of the old Cathedral.

Visitors to St Andrew's will be surprised by the internal layout in this square building. You will not find the expected traditional arrangement of parallel pews, with the congregation facing the altar to the front. Instead the whole plan has been laid out on the diagonal.

The church was reordered in 1999. The Sanctuary was simplified and a Blessed Sacrament chapel was installed near the entrance to the Church for private prayer and devotion.

 The wrought iron of the screen and furnishings depict crosses of St Andrew and the sweep of the hills of Galloway. The hangings behind the Altar depict the History of Salvation. The left panel begins at the top with the Trinity and the birth of Christ. The centre panel depicts the crucifixion and the gift of the Eucharist. The right panel shows resurrection, the empty tomb, the coming of the Spirit and the growth of the early Church in the fish symbol (ichthus). Note the lines hinting at the hills of Galloway (and Galilee); they become the thorns of the Passion and then the new shoots of the early Church faith. Some of the symbols also remind us of the cross of St Andrew.