Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (1832) Independence Square, Port of Spain | Photograph Geoffrey MacLean October 2009
Written by Geoffrey MacLean
The first Catholic Church in Port of Spain was built in 1781 by the Spanish Governor Martin de Salaverria on the site that is now known as Tamarind Square.
The English Governor Sir Ralph Woodford decided to build a church better suited to the growing and predominantly Catholic population. Plans were drawn by the Governor’s Secretary, Philip Reinagle and the foundation stone was laid on 24 March 1816. The new church was located west of the existing church at the eastern end of what was Marine Square, now Independence Square.
The building was laid out in the shape of a Latin cross and built of blue metal from the Laventille quarries with iron framework from England for the doors and windows.
Doctor James Buckley, Vicar Apostolic to the Holy See arrived in Trinidad in March 1820 and the church became a Cathedral. Completed in 1832, the Cathedral would be consecrated in1849 after all debts had been paid. In 1851 Pope Pius IX declared that the Cathedral was to rank as a Minor Basilica.
On 2 September 1825 the twin towers, originally built of stone, were destroyed by an earthquake and rebuilt in wood as they are today. The towers contain twelve bells and a clock, added in 1879.
Excerpt Voices in the Street 1977
Olga J. Mavrogordato