Choose your country and language:

Africa

  • Global
  • Angola
  • Botswana
  • DRC
  • Ethiopia
  • Ghana
  • Kenya
  • Malawi
  • Mozambique
  • Namibia
  • Nigeria
  • South Africa
  • Tanzania
  • Uganda
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

Americas

  • USA
  • Argentina
  • Brazil

Asia Pacific

  • China
  • India
  • Japan
  • South Korea
  • Australia

Europe

  • France
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Netherlands
  • United Kingdom
Back

IIn most churches, mosques, synagogues, temples and cathedrals in South Africa there is a deeply rooted relationship between religion and politics.

Designed by Sir Herbert Baker and Frank Fleming, the Cathedral Church of St Mary the Virgin hardly shied away from joining a growing hymn of resistance against the system of racial segregation and discrimination.

It one of the first few racially integrated churches during the 1950s in central Johannesburg and in 1975, the cathedral appointed Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu as its first black dean.

Did You Know?
RReverend John Darragh was the first rector of St Mary's Cathedral (which was St Mary’s Church at the time).

UUnder Tutu’s leadership, the adjoining Darragh House – which was owned by the church – became a cradle of democracy which housed some of the work, meetings and services that went into dismantling the shackles of apartheid.

St Mary’s Cathedral

Food
When to visit
How to get here

BBeyers Naudé, a South African cleric, theologian and a leading Afrikaaner anti-apartheid activist also served at the helm of the church at one point.

Befitting its historical significance, the cathedral served as an ideal place to host Helen Joseph’s funeral in 1993 – at which Nelson Mandela gave a heartfelt speech.

Helen, who Mandela described as “a figure which has helped to shape our destiny and an indelible part of our history,” dedicated herself single-mindedly to opposing apartheid – a commitment that earned her the ANC's highest award, the Isitwalandwe/Seaparankoe Medal.

In the same year, family members, friends and dignitaries gathered at the cathedral to pay their last respects to former president of the ANC Oliver Tambo while his body lay in state.

SSt Mary’s Cathedral

Standing boldly on the corner of Wanderers and De Villiers Streets and in the heart of the inner city, the five-storey cathedral is still as charming as it was when it was consecrated in 1929.

Its visually-appealing Romanesque-Italian architecture is complemented by the spectacular works of art displayed across three chapels: the chapel of St John Chrysostom, All Souls Chapel – which pays tribute to the fallen South African soldiers in The Great War, and the Chapel of the Holy Spirit -where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved in a tabernacle.

At the entrance of the All Souls Chapel is one of two statues of the Madonna, called Mamasoabi (Our Lady of Sorrows) while the other one stands quaintly next to the pulpit.

At the east end of the cathedral, a life-size wood carving of the Crucifixion, designed by Baden Beadle, hangs in a commanding position above the chancel steps. The great rood, bearing the Latin inscription Vere Filius Dei Erat Iste (This Truly was the Son of God) features a carving of Jesus, flanked by images of a sorrowing Mary, St John, a Roman soldier and Mary Magdalene.

According to the Joburg tourism website, the church’s morning services currently attract approximately 500 congregants from the inner city, Soweto and the East Rand.

Every Sunday, they are treated to an eyeful of white-plastered columns and arches, glossy parquet floors, enchanting stained glass windows and antique benches, which boast a total capacity of 2000 people seated.

More impressively, they are serenaded by resonant melodies from a majestic pipe organ filling all ears.

Related Articles

Vibrant culture

Xhosa culture: the clans and customs

Vibrant culture
Xhosa culture: the clans and customs

The AmaXhosa are part of three nations known as Nguni that are found in South Africa. The other two are AmaSwazi and AmaZulu.  The AmaXhosa settled in the Eastern Cape and over time spread to the Western Cape.

Vibrant culture

Cape Malay cuisine: food that feeds the soul

Vibrant culture
Cape Malay cuisine: food that feeds the soul

A food group born from the souls of slaves, in its heart, one motto: make sure our people are fed.

Vibrant culture

Xhosa cuisine: the dishes and traditions

Vibrant culture
Xhosa cuisine: the dishes and traditions

Xhosa cuisine: the dishes and traditions

Vibrant culture

African ancestors

Vibrant culture
African ancestors

African ancestors continue to give Africans a shared and personal sense of self-affirmation, identity and unfettered belonging.

Vibrant culture

Zulu cuisine: the dishes and traditions

Vibrant culture
Zulu cuisine: the dishes and traditions

Zulu cuisine is still very much influenced by tradition and its celebration of history and a commitment to culture.

Vibrant culture

The colour of Cape Malay culture

Vibrant culture
The colour of Cape Malay culture

The Cape Malay community has contributed to the vast tapestry of South African traditions.

Vibrant culture

Traditional African food in South Africa

Vibrant culture
Traditional African food in South Africa

The food story of South Africa.

Vibrant culture

The culture of Basotho: history, people, clothing and food

Vibrant culture
The culture of Basotho: history, people, clothing and food

As a nation that boasts about its rich culture, the Basotho can trace their origins to the pre-historic age.

South Africa on social media

Copyright © 2018 South African Tourism
|Terms and conditions|Disclaimer|Privacy policy