St Mary’s is a much loved gem of a Church. Sitting serenely beside the River Ness it is a
welcome haven for the many visitors who come to the city every year. It is a most familiar and comfortable home to the hundreds of parishioners from Inverness and the surrounding area. On the other side of the river, almost opposite, on a grassy knoll stands the Old High Church. This is the most likely location of St Columba’s encounter with King Brude in 565 AD, when the Gospel was first proclaimed. In due course a church dedicated to St Mary was built on that site.
The present St Mary’s (Our Lady of the Annunciation) was the first Catholic Church to be built In Inverness since the penal times when Catholics were persecuted. Following the Catholic Emancipation Act in 1829 local Catholics were not slow to begin worshipping in newly built Churches. In 1827, St Mary’s, Inverness was established as a separate Mission with
Fr Terence McGuire as priest in charge. St Mary’s Church was opened on 2 April 1837.
This beautiful building was the work of William Robertson, Architect, of Elgin. It is a very fine example of Victorian Gothic Revival. By 1888, to cater for ever growing numbers the Church was enlarged by the addition of a new Sanctuary, with a High Altar in Caen stone after the style of Peter Paul Pugin. P.P Pugin advised William Laidlaw Carruthers, the Inverness architect who designed the extended sanctuary.
In the late twentieth century, following the Second Vatican Council, there was some re-ordering of the interior and the addition of a new transept extension on the north side. This is served by a side aisle in which is incorporated a fine Baptistery containing a window commemorating the men of the Parish who had fallen in the Two World Wars.
The priests’ residence, The Presbytery, is to the left of the Church. The Parish Office is also located there. On the right of the Church the Convent is home to the sisters. The Parish Hall is situated beyond.
The People of God for whom St Mary’s is a home reflects the composition of the population of Inverness, the fastest growing city in Europe. Everyone is made welcome at St Mary’s whether one is from the Scottish islands, the mainland, other parts of Britain and Ireland, or one of many newcomers from Poland and other parts of Europe – and from as far as Africa and Asia.
We are poised to play our part in Mission and Evangelisation, reaching out to the lapsed, to the unchurched, to the confused, to the anxious and to all who have yet to welcome the Gospel of Christ into their hearts and lives.
We welcome you to enter St Mary’s and enjoy its peace and tranquillity in the presence of God. While resting and reflecting under the colours from the stained glass windows, which are constantly being added to, we hope you find comfort and remember what scripture tells us:
to act justly
to love tenderly
and to walk humbly with your God.”