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Emmanuel Cathedral
Durban, KwaZulu-Natal




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29°51'26.96" S 31°00'56.35" E Alt: 9m

SESA Vol 4:303

EMMANUEL CATHEDRAL, Durban, Natal. When the first Oblate missionaries in Natal, under the leadership of Bishop J. F. M. Allard, arrived in Pietermaritzburg in 1852, one of their number, Father J. B. Sabon, was given 30 shillings and told to proceed to Durban and found a mission there. Owing to his efforts a site was obtained 'outside the town' on the corner of the present West and Broad Streets, and a small church was erected, costing about £12O. This humble building served the ever-growing congregation for nearly two decades, when the same pioneer priest built on the same site a much larger church under the same patronage of St. Joseph. As West Street developed, Allard's successor decided to sell the valuable site and build his cathedral elsewhere. In the pioneer days the incumbents of the Methodist, Anglican and Catholic churches were the trustees of the West Street cemetery, and Bishop Charles Jolivet obtained permission to erect his cathedral on a vacant portion of this ground. The edifice was almost ready for dedication and the date for the ceremony fixed for Christmas 1903 when the Bishop suddenly died on 15 Sept. His funeral was the first ceremony in the uncompleted building, and his remains were placed in a vault in front of the high altar. Those of his successor, Bishop H. Delalle, who died in 1947, lie before the Lady altar. The former St. Joseph's, only twenty years old, was pulled down and its bricks, windows and furnishings used for the present St. Joseph's Church in Stamford Hill Road, Greyville. The present magnificent high altar in marble and alabaster was erected in memory of those who fell in the First World War. Father J. O'Donnell toured South Africa and America to collect the necessary funds. The large Stations of the Cross are copies of those in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on Montmartre, Paris. The name Emmanuel Cathedral commemorates the arrival of Vasco da Gama and the pioneer explorers who gave the name of Natal to this part of the African coast when sighted on Christmas Day 1497. J.E. BRADY

See also The Catholic Archdiocese of Durban

(Spiller 1985:89-94 ill; SAB Oct 1925:17 ill)

All truncated references not fully cited below are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.

Writings about this entry

Hillebrand, Melanie. 1975. Aspects of architecture in Natal, 1880 1914. Pietermaritzburg: Unpublished MA. Dept Fine Art and History of Art, University of Natal. pg 193-194
Lloyds Greater Britain Publishing. 1906. Twentieth century impressions of Natal : its people, commerce, industries, and resources. Durban: Lloyds Greater Britain Publishing. pg 138
Potgieter, DJ (Editor-in-chief). 1971. Standard Encyclopaedia of South Africa [SESA] Volume 4 Dev-For. Cape Town: Nasou. pg 303
Brady, JE Emmanuel Cathedral: in Potgieter, DJ (Editor-in-chief). 1971. Standard Encyclopaedia of South Africa [SESA] Volume 4 Dev-For: pp 303