St Mary’s Cathedral is the mother church of the Diocese of Edinburgh in the Scottish Episcopal Church. We are part of the world-wide Anglican communion and thus have very close links with the Church of England, as well as our Presbyterian neighbours (the Church of Scotland).
You can see our three spires from most places in Edinburgh, especially if you are on Princes Street and look west. The spires perhaps make you to want to look up. We hope they will make you want to make the short walk from Princes Street towards Haymarket.
Every day our doors are open: open so that anyone can visit, can come in and be still, perhaps light a candle as a sign of prayer for someone in need or a special need close to your heart. Each day prayers are said, the Eucharist (Holy Communion) celebrated, God is worshipped.
Our three spires and our open doors are signs of:
- * A place of stillness in the heart of Scotland’s capital
- * A place where God’s praises are sung by the Cathedral choir
- * A place where a large congregation meets each Sunday, stretches out hands to receive the Bread of Life, or shares in the solemnity of Choral Evenosng.
- * A place where young people as apprentice stone masons can learn old skills and care for our building through the Cathedral Workshop.
- * A place where young boys and girls (from all backgrounds) as Cathedral Choristers can aspire to even higher musical and educational heights at nearby St Mary’s Music School
- * A place where the work of Christian Aid and One World are promoted.
- * A place which lets its buildings and site be used for the wider community: a nursery; a GPs surgery; outreach for those seeking mental health services; gardens for all to share.
The Diocese of Edinburgh is one of the seven historic dioceses of the Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC). The SEC traces its origins back to the fifth century AD and the very first Christians in Scotland, especially St Ninian and St Mungo, who founded the first dioceses here. The SEC is in full communion with the Church of England and other Anglican churches worldwide. The SEC maintains many similarities with the Church of England, especially in our styles of worship and governance, but we also possess many differences, not least of which is the fact that we are not established, and so do not possess the same kind of relationship with the State.
Like any other busy Cathedral, we are the centre for many diocesan activities and special services, as well as cultural events such as concerts, lectures and exhibitions. But our most important activity is the maintenance of a constant cycle of Christian prayer, day-in day-out, year-by-year, as a key part of our witness to the message of God’s Good News for all people found in Jesus Christ.
In addition to the daily cycle of prayer and worship, we support a busy programme of groups and activities which are open to all. These vary from Sunday groups for children and young people, through groups which meet in the week for prayer, study, cultural and social activities, to various outreach and fundraising activities for charities both local and worldwide.Read more about Cathedral Life >>
The Friends of St Mary's Cathedral exists to support the witness and mission of the Cathedral through a programme of fundraising, prayer and cultural and social activities.Read more about Friends of the Cathedral >>
At the close of the Middle Ages, when all Christian churches in northern Europe belonged to the “one catholic church” under the authority of the Pope, Edinburgh was within the archdiocese of St Andrews, with its Archbishop’s seat (cathedra) in St Andrews itself.Read more about History >>
Around the Cathedral Many pre-Reformation cathedrals were founded on the pattern of monasteries and religious foundations, and so they have cathedral closes, houses and cloisters to support a sizeable residential community.Read more about A Tour of the Cathedral >>
St Mary's, the first major Cathedral to be built from new in Britain since the Reformation, was built to the design of Sir George Gilbert Scott in 1879. It has strengths that witness to the spirit of that age: it is massive, the spires dominate the Edinburgh skyline, and it rejoices in a wealth of ornate and symbolic detail.Read more about The Cathedral Workshop >>