About St Patrick’s

St Patrick’s is a Roman Catholic church on the Cowgate in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town. Its history is long and intriguing: built between 1771-4 for the Scottish Episcopal Church, it was sold to a Presbyterian Congregation in 1818. When they moved to a building in Infirmary Street, they agreed to sell their redundant building to the Catholic Church.

The church was bought by Bishop Gillis in 1856 to serve the growing number of Irish immigrants who had settled in the Cowgate area of Edinburgh. The cost of the new church was £4000. Half was paid for by the Church; the rest was raised by the people. Though they lived in poverty, they were determined to raise money for a church of their own. St Patrick’s was officially opened as a Catholic church on Sunday, 3rd August 1856 by Bishop Gillis. The congregation present was estimated at 2600.

In 1898 a new sanctuary was built, extending outwards from the north wall, and a high altar was installed. In 1921 the mortuary chapel was erected as a memorial to the 320 men of the parish who had fallen in the Great War. In 1924 a new Lady Chapel was built, and the following year, a chapel dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In 1929 a facade was added incorporating the statues of St Patrick and St Brigid in niches above the entrance. An impressive terrace and steps completed the design of the church and gave it the appearance we know today.

St Patrick’s is a highly significant building in Edinburgh’s Old Town. Its tower is a notable part of the skyline. As well as being a place of worship for its own regular congregation and visitors to the city, it is also a place of peace for any soul visiting the busy city centre.