Our History

What is an Archdiocese?

The word diocese derives from the Greek word for administration. It is the district under the supervision of a bishop. A diocese is sub-divided into parishes and pastoral areas. 

An archdiocese (or archiepiscopal/ archbishopric) is more significant than a diocese. It is presided over by an archbishop and within an archdiocese members of the clergy assume official positions of authority alongside civil governors.

This formal church hierarchy was set up, parallel to the civil administration, whose areas of responsibility often coincided e.g. finance and Christian education.

The Archdiocese of Liverpool

Pre-Reformation Liverpool did not have a cathedral. It belonged for several centuries to the Diocese of Lichfield, or Lichfield and Coventry, until, at the Reformation in the time of Henry VIII, it came under the newly constituted Diocese of Chester. After the Reformation the Roman Catholic religion was proscribed and could only be practised in secret. It was not until the restoration of the hierarchy in 1850 that the normal structure of dioceses was re-established for Catholics.

Pope Pius IX created 13 new dioceses in September 1850. The Diocese of Liverpool was amongst this number. It encompassed West Derby, Leyland, Fylde, Amounderness and Lonsdale in Lancashire and the Isle of Man.

As the diocese did not have a cathedral it fell under the Metropolitan See of Westminster until the Province of Liverpool (also known as the Northern Province) was created was created under Pope Pius X in October 1911.

The iconic Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King is the result of the fourth attempt by the Catholic Church to build a mother church for the diocese of Liverpool. 

It is the official seat of the Archbishop of Liverpool, the mother church of Liverpool's Catholics, and the metropolitan church of the ecclesiastical Northern Province.

Past Archbishops and Auxiliary Bishops of Liverpool

You can read more about the past archbishops and auxiliary bishops of Liverpool by clicking here.