About Us

Some important dates in the history of our parish:

1827


August - the first Catholic service is held in London Township at the home of Michael Flood; Bishop Alexander MacDonnell and Fr. James Campion officiating.


The first baptism is that of John and Mary Dignan, aged 1 and 3 years old


The first Catholic wedding in the London vicinity takes place between James Flood and Catherine Keogh.


The first Catholic burial is that of Catherine Flood.


1831


In September, St. Thomas is detached from Dundas (near Hamilton) and constituted as a separate parish, with London as a mission


1834


Fr. Daniel Downie builds the first Catholic church in London, named St. Lawrence's Church.


1843


June 6, Fr. Michael Robert Mills takes charge of St. Thomas and London is created a separate parish.


1845


April 11, St. Lawrence's Church perishes in the Great Fire of London


1850


December 11, Fr. Thadeus T. Kirwan is appointed the first Rural Dean of London.


1851


August 24, second St. Lawrence's Church razed by fire


1852


March 7, new St. Lawrence's Church is dedicated. This church sat on what is now the front lawn of the current Cathedral.


1856


February 21, Pope Pius IX partitions nine counties from the Diocese of Toronto and establishes a new See at London.


February 29, Pierre-Adolphe Pinsoneault is named first Bishop of London.


June 29, Bishop Pinsoneault is installed in St. Peter's Cathedral (previously known as St. Lawrence's Church) on the Festival of St. Peter and St. Paul.


1857


September 30, London's first Catholic school, St. Peter's, is established. Unfortunately, St. Peter's School is no longer in existence. Rather, the building serves as "St. Peter's Campus" - a facility to compensate for overcrowding at Catholic high schools. This is unfortunate because St. Peter's School was very historical and we would be celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2007.


December, Bishop Pinsoneault moves the episcopal residence to Sandwich (near Windsor).


1859


February 2, Rome authorizes the translation of the Episcopal See from London to Sandwich.


1866


July 8, James Vincent McLaughlin becomes the first Londoner to be ordained a priest.


October 2, Henry Edward Dormer dies from typhoid fever. Word spreads quickly: "The saint is dead!" A memorial to Dormer is in the west transept of the Cathedral, near the Chapel of Christ the King.


December 18 - as requested, Bishop Pinsoneault resigns, having left the diocese in considerable debt.


1867


John Walsh is named Bishop of London and moves the episcopal residence back to London.


1869


November 15, decree from Rome switching Episcopal See back to London, from Sandwich.


1871


Bishop's Palace is built (today this serves as the rectory for the priests of St. Peter's).


1880


February 15, Bishop Walsh announces plans to build a new Cathedral.


March 18, Joseph Connolly is named architect and, on August 10, the first sod is turned.


1881


On May 22, the cornerstone of the current Cathedral is blessed and laid.


1885


April 19, Bishop Walsh delivers a "farewell sermon" in the old St. Peter's before it is torn down.


June 28, the new Cathedral is dedicated and opened on the vigil of St. Peter and St. Paul.


1888


February 13 - death of Monsignor Bruyere: missionary, rector, Vicar-General, diocesan administrator, and champion of Catholic education. His remains lie buried under the present Cathedral and there is a memorial to his honour in the East Transept.


1889


July 25, Bishop Walsh is named Archbishop of Toronto.


October 6, dedication ceremonies in the Cathedral for the installation of stained glass windows, high altar, and stations of the cross.


1909


December 14, Michael Francis Fallon, OMI, is named Bishop of London.


1912


St. Peter's Seminary is founded, 30 seminarians begin academic studies at the Bishop's Palace (now the rectory).


1914


Bishop Fallon moves to Blackfriars (90 Central Avenue) and this continues to serve as the Bishop's Palace.


St. Peter's Parish Hall is erected. The Hall was later given by the Cathedral to its School, which is no longer in existence. Today, the area once occupied by the parish hall is now where the school gym is.


1926 - Jubilee Year for the Cathedral


From John Farrell's History of the Roman Catholic Church in London, 1826 - 1931:


"1926 was Centennial Year for the historic city of London, Ontario. Exactly a hundred years ago, the first primitive beginnings of London showed themselves at the Forks of the River Thames. Catholics had double reason to celebrate since .... 1926 was the three hundredth anniversary of the first Mass ever to have been said in the peninsula of Southwestern Ontario. From the makeshift altar of Father de la Roche Dallion, the Church had risen to the splendour of St. Peter's Cathedral, of St. Peter's Seminary, Brescia Hall, and of the numerous parishes and schools throughout the Diocese."


September 26 to October 3 - Catholic Centennial Week in London.


In addition to commemorating the aforementioned Jubilee, this celebrated the construction of St. Peter's Seminary and Brescia Hall (today called Brescia College). Also, this was an extremely special week for the Cathedral since it celebrated the beautiful decoration of the Cathedral's interior and the new Cassavant organ.


1931


February 22, Bishop Fallon dies. He remains a controversial figure in the history of the Diocese of London. Those curious readers who wish to read his memorial should simply walk into his Cathedral Church and appreciate its beauty: "If you are looking for his monument, just look around you."


1934


June 9, London welcomes the first visit by a Prince of the Church, John Cardinal Villeneuve, Archbishop of Quebec.


December 22, Ralph Humbert Dignan is named Bishop of Sault Ste Marie, the first native son of London to be elevated to the episcopacy. Bishop Dignan wrote a wonderful History of the Diocese of London that traces the origins of the Church in this area well back into the 17th century.


1944


April 7, Fr. Philip Francis Pocock becomes the second native Londoner to be appointed bishop; consecrated Bishop of Saskatoon on June 29 in St. Peter's Cathedral.


1949


December 8, the Shrine to Our Mother of Perpetual Help is dedicated, it is believed to be the first of its kind in Canada. Visitors may find this shrine in the East Transept.


1950


June 2, death of Bishop Kidd. John Cody becomes the seventh Bishop of London.


1952


September 1, Bishop Cody dedicates the new baptistry, donated to the Cathedral by the Sansone family. Designed by Philip Aziz, the baptistry is to be found at the east end of the narthex (in the entrance to the Cathedral). It is placed at the entrance to the Cathedral because baptism marks an entrance into God's family - the Church.


1957


In April, stone from an old post office in St. Thomas is stockpiled beside the Cathedral in readiness for the completion of the towers and the new sacristy.


Work on the towers starts in October.


1958


May 19 - bells are installed in the new towers.


December 8, Bishop Cody blesses the new Lady Chapel and Sacristy.


The side altar that is west of the High Altar (previously the Chapel of Sacred Heart of Jesus) became the Chapel of Christ the King. The side altar that is east of the High Altar (previously the Lady Chapel) became the Chapel of St. Joseph. The old Sacristy became the new Lady Chapel and the new Sacristy is in a totally new room that goes around the Chancel in a semicircle.


1961


December 13, Pope John XXIII raises St. Peter's to the rank of Minor Basilica in honour of Bishop Cody's 25th anniversary of his episcopal consecration.


1963


December 5, death of Bishop Cody. Visitors to the Cathedral may be curious to notice that, with the Gothic gargoyles along the facade, are images of two bishops: Bishop Walsh and Bishop Cody. Bishop Walsh's face is carved into the Cathedral facade to the right of the main door. Bishop Cody's face is on the other side of the doorway. Why these two Bishops? It was under Walsh that the building itself was constructed, the Diocese grew rapidly, and St. Peter's returned to being a Cathedral Church. Under Cody, the Cathedral was completed and became a Minor Basilica.


1962


Martin Boundy received the Bene Mereti Medal for distinguished service to the Catholic community of London. Boundy was a music teacher at Catholic Central High School and founded their band in 1954. For over 20 years, Boundy was conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra (which now goes by the term "Orchestra London"). Boundy went on to lead the music program at Fanshawe College, where he founded the London Fanshawe Symphonic Chorus. For a number of years, Boundy served as choirmaster of St. Peter's Cathedral. Boundy died in the autumn of 1998.


1964


February 22. The Most Rev'd Gerald Emmett Carter succeeds as eighth Bishop of London.


1966


St. Peter's received its official Grant of Arms from the United Kingdom, legal recognition to our Coat of Arms.


1968


Major renovations to the chancel/sanctuary. The old High Altar was removed and a new marble altar placed at the crossing along with a beautiful marble floor throughout the sanctuary. Much of the woodwork was removed, such as the communion rails and most of the choir stalls for the old chancel choir. The Bishop's Throne, which used to be in the choir stalls (hence the term "in choir") was moved to where the old High Altar was. When completed, the renovations doubled the size of the main sanctuary and the beautiful High Altar still remains the focus of worship.


1978


April 28, Bishop Carter is named Archbishop of Toronto.


August 21, Bishop Sherlock is installed as the ninth Bishop of London.


1979


June 30, Archbishop Carter is created Canada's fourth Cardinal.


September 11, Cardinal Carter visits St. Peter's.


St. Peter's School closes and becomes extra class space.


1980


June 11, Fr. Marcel Gervais (previously a professor at the Seminary) is consecrated Auxiliary Bishop of London; the first priest of this diocese to also serve as one of its bishops. Today, Gervais is the Cardinal-Archbishop of Ottawa.


1981


April 7, death of Monsignor Feeney: "If you are looking for his monument, just look around you."


During the 50s, when Feeney was rector, the Cathedral was finished.


1984


Monsignor O'Donnell becomes rector of St. Peter's.


1996


Monsignor O'Donnell retires and Fr. Clare Coleman becomes rector.


1999


Christmas Day, 11 o'clock Mass - Bishop Sherlock opened the Jubilee Door to officially begin our Diocese's celebrations for the Holy Year of 2000 before a large congregation. The occasion was marked with a solemn outdoor procession. Prayers were said in front of the door, which was blessed with holy water and incense. Once blessed, Bishop Sherlock opened the door and everyone followed to celebrate this triumphant occasion. The west door on the facade was used as the Jubilee Door and the logo of the Holy Year was painted on that door earlier that year.


2000 - The Holy Year


June


"Celebrate 2000" was held on the first weekend of June in downtown's Victoria Park, to commemorate 2000 years since the birth of Jesus Christ - "Jesus Christ, Present for All". This outdoor festival was hosted by the downtown churches, including St. Peter's. On Saturday June 3, a Hymn Festival was held at Metropolitan United Church, in which our Cathedral Choir took part.


2001


January 7 - Epiphany Sunday - the Holy Year officially came to a close. Bishop Sherlock, the Ordinary, and Bishop Grecco, the Auxiliary, were in Rome on this occasion to commemorate the Holy Year with the Holy Father.


This year marked 75 years since our Diocese's Jubilee Year. Therefore, it was the 75th anniversary of the Cathedral's decoration. In a particular way, this involved celebrating the construction of the organ with a number of organ recitals and concerts.