This Highlights section provides a preview of just a few of the many beautiful works of art to be seen: architecture, mosaics, textiles, carvings and many historical artifacts. We hope you will be able to visit us to enjoy these in person and benefit from the peace and serenity of the Cathedral, but if not we do hope you will enjoy seeing these on the Website.
The foundation stone of the cathedral was laid in September 1899 and building work began round the old church which remained in use until it was demolished at the end of 1903. The west front of the Cathedral was built as a memorial to the Ulstermen and women who had served and died in the Great War 1914-1918. The foundation stone for the west front was laid by the Governor of Northern Ireland the Duke of Abercorn on 2 June 1925 and the completed facade was dedicated in June 1927.
Above the West Door, this is a fine specimen of mosaic craft, depicting five angels traced on a gold background. One of them is playing the organ, the other a trumpet, the other a violin and two are kneeling – one is singing, while the fifth is praying. This is an appropriate memorial to the choristers of the Cathedral, who were killed in the Great War 1914-1918.
Magnificent view from the nave looking through the arches into the Chapel of the Holy Spirit. The dome of the chapel is of mosaics depicting four angels each of which bears a different religious symbol. The mosaic above the entrance to the Chapel of the Holy Spirit shows St Patrick arriving in Ireland and is shown in more detail in the next image.
St Patrick is in the bow of his ship, sailing past the Mourne Mountains, and holding up the Cross to invoke the Divine aid to his mission. The sea is represented with conventional waves, and the landscape background and the sky are shown as dark and gloomy on one side, while the other side is bathed in light. This contrast is a symbolic portrayal of St Patrick bringing the light of Christianity into the darkness of heathendom. The Mourne Mountains are reproduced with absolute fidelity.
Windows in the Ambulatory are themed on the great virtues, of which Patience is featured. The many stars symbolise the patience of Abraham and God's promise to him: "I will bless you abundantly and greatly multiply your descendants until they are as numerous as the stars in the sky." (Genesis 22:17) Patience holds a medallion in which Job's wife urges him to curse God, while his three friends look on. Satan is seen on the far left blowing an ill wind and creating all Job's suffering. The dove at the top symbolises the presence of the Holy Spirit.
"Arise and Walk", one of three delightful and moving stone carvings from the Healing Pillar. It is one of many fine examples of craftsmanship in stone carving in the Cathedral.
The 1,517 lives lost in the Titanic tragedy are commemorated in a beautiful hand–crafted funeral pall, dedicated in St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast, a century after the disaster. This stunning memorial to those who died when the ship hit an iceberg in April 1912 has been made by Helen O’Hare and Wilma Kirkpatrick, textile artists at the University of Ulster. The 12ft X 8ft pall was the gift of the Friends of St Anne’s Cathedral. A large central cross is fashioned from lots of tiny crosses and hundreds more of these crosses, in different sizes and shapes, each individually stitched in silk, rayon, metallic and cotton threads, fall away towards the velvet rimmed edges of the pall, symbolic of lost lives sinking into the dark ocean. Full Story.
The Font is fashioned out of marble taken from various parts of Ireland; its colouring is symbolic of the Sacrament of Baptism. The base is of black marble, representing sin. The columns are of red marble, representing Christ’s saving blood shed on Calvary, therefore penitence. The bowl is of white alabaster, representing new life and re-birth after the sacrament of baptism (grace).
The mosaic roof of the Baptistery is of exceptional interest, being a magnificent example of art peculiarly adapted to the Romanesque style of architecture. Its emphasis is on space, both on the walls and domed roof. The Roof itself is composed of 150,000 pieces of glass representing Creation and symbolising Earth, Fire, and Water and overall is the hand of the Creator raised in Blessing.
Impressive view of the north transept containing what is considered to be the largest Celtic Cross in Ireland. And above that the Spire of Hope rising 250 feet above street level. This modern and radical design of a light-weight spire in stainless steel was necessitated by the fact that Cathedral is build on soft grey mud, silt and fine sand known as Belfast "sleech".
The nave looking from the south-west corner. The arches are of the characteristic semi-circular pattern of the overall Romanesque design of the building. Take a moment from your sightseeing to sit quietly and at peace, soaking up the grandeur of the building, and the uncluttered spaciousness that draws us into awe and wonder at the greatness of God.
View of the Sanctuary, looking upwards over the Altar and Celtic cross. The Good Samaritan window (centre bottom) is the only feature of the old church to be retained in the Cathedral. In contrast, the three Clerestory windows (top) are the only abstract art in the cathedral and were the work of Edward Marr, late of Belfast College of Art.
The centre of the three abstract windows high above the Cathedral's altar. This image represents the Trinity: The Father as the light of the sun, the Holy Spirit as a dove in the centre, whilst a crown of thorns can be picked out at the bottom.