A Reflection – Cathedral on the Isle of Man

The Cathedral was closed for re-ordering in August 2023 when I started to write this reflection. It is hoped the work will be completed for Easter 2024.
The original cathedral, now in ruins, was the cathedral for Sodor and Man. Today the diocese is the smallest in the Church of England.
In the 19th century there were moves to incorporate the diocese into the Diocese of Carlisle (1836) and then into the Diocese of Liverpool, when it was formed (1880). Both proposals failed.

The Norwegian diocese of Sodor was formed in 1154, it covered the Hebrides and the other islands along the west coast of Scotland, The Southern Isles. The Northern Isles were Orkney and Shetland.
The Isle of Man was included in the Sothern Isles.


The ruins of the former Cathedral of St. German


The Cathedral today

FinnWikiNo-Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0

The Dean, the Very Reverend Nigel Godfrey explains the design of the new logo:
“We wanted a symbol that was modern-looking to reflect the exciting changes that are underway at the Cathedral. It is also intended to incorporate our artistic and religious heritage – hence the references to Archibald Knox and the Bishop’s crozier. The fish has a strong Christian tradition – as well as being synonymous with the fishing port of Peel. Finally, we felt the need to incorporate movement in the same way as the Three Legs of Man symbol is a dynamic design. After all, the Cathedral is unique and belongs to the whole island and is the Mother Church of the Diocese of Sodor and Man.”

Introducing the major renovations under the heading ‘A Cathedral re-ordered for Mission in 21st Century’ their web page included this short history

‘History Building and re-building the Island’s Cathedral has been happening since the arrival of St German in 447. Until the late 18th century, the site was on St Patrick’s Isle off Peel. The ruins of the Medieval Cathedral remain there as part of Peel Castle, once the stronghold of the Norse Kings of Mann and the Isles. The present Cathedral was originally built between 1879-84 and while it was intended to be the new Cathedral, the necessary legislation was not passed by Tynwald, so it became a Parish Church to replace St Peter’s on Peel’s market place. Instead, the chapel at Bishopscourt, Kirk Michael acted as the pro-Cathedral. In 1979 with the sale of Bishopscourt, the diocese was left without a cathedral, and this forced the issue of choosing a new one. After public consultation, Kirk German Parish Church was designated, and dedicated on All Saints Day (1 November 1980).’

During the building work, the cathedral choir is on ‘safari’ around the island. The witness of the cathedral being heard Sunday by Sunday.

The cathedral is dedicated to St German. St German was a Celtic missionary who lived in the fifth century. He should not be confused with St Germaine of Auxerre. While they were contemporaries, St Germaine followed the Roman tradition of Christianity whereas St German was of the Celtic tradition. His Celtic name was Noo Carmane AspickVannin. As with many Celtic monks, St German founded many keeills across the Isle of Man, the Celtic term for a simple chapel.

In the cathedral there is an icon of St. German, which is there to draw us into an act of contemplation, drawing us closer to the image of God revealed by the life of the saint ‘. . . the true icon is always a call for conversion, an invitation to a process where we are all transformed into the same glorious image’ Cathedral web page

The icon presents St German as the travelling monk he was, and of characteristic Celtic appearance, with fair skin, red hair and green eyes. His head is shaved from ear to ear in the fashion of the Celtic church. He wears a hooded cloak, and over his shoulders the pallium denotes his status as Bishop. The Celtic cross is raised in his right hand; a sign of authority and blessing. In his left hand he holds a depiction of the present-day Cathedral, which carries on the work he began over 1,500 years ago. St German gazes unflinchingly and compassionately, seeming to challenge us with his unfinished mission. (Cathedral Isle of Man web page) 

Pause and Reflect

1st week of
Slow down, breath calmly and relax.

Holy Father,
We give you thanks for Bishop German,
who toiled untiringly to spread the faith and to save souls.
Grant us his unswerving commitment to holiness
so that, like him, we may build up your Church on this island
and lead all people to your glory.
We ask this through the intercessions of your only Son,
our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the prayers of our patron St German.

Loving God, draw us on the journey
to the places of holiness, the places of peace,
the places of encounter, the places of beauty,
the places where faith has been lived, your love made known,
your hope held out in the past, for the present, into your future. Amen

We start with the carol Angels from the Realms of Glory from the Chet Valley Churches.

A reading from the Gospel of Luke (2.15-20)

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.’ So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 1When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Pause and reflect on the words from the Gospel and ponder these words again:
Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.

Let us draw into our circle of prayer our:
Family and Friends
Local church and its leaders
wider community
widening our circle to include:
those in government and positions of authority
those who are oppressed, those who are hungry and homeless
those who are ill, those facing death
Merciful Father, accept these prayers
for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen

When asked about how to pray Jesus gave these simple but profound words, so let them be our prayer:
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be Thy name;
Thy kingdom come;
Thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil. Amen

Closing Prayers

Heavenly Father,
whose blessed Son shared at Nazareth the life of an earthly home:
help your Church to live as one family,
united in love and obedience,
and bring us all at last to our home in heaven;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Adapted from Bury Mission Community Prayer (Diocese of Manchester)

Loving God,
Jesus called his disciples to seek your kingdom and follow him.
You summon us to share work of our Pilgrim Community
Open our hearts to hear his invitation to be his disciples in this generation.
Grant us courage.
Strengthen us by your Holy Spirit.
Give us compassion, wisdom and resilience.
Pour on us your endless grace that we may flourish, and our parishes grow in faith and love, service and compassion,
Through Christ our Lord. Amen
+ In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Listen to Christmas Lullaby from John Rutter, The Cambridge Singers, City of London Sinfonia

Or you may wish the finish this time of reflective prayer sitting silently and enjoying a peaceful moment or two. You may also think about listening to some music that has touched you or a favourite hymn or song. Enjoy these moments! God bless!

Fr. Derek Akker

(Derek is a retired Anglican Parish Priest and a member of the congregations of All Saints & St James. Prior to his ordination he was accredited as a Methodist Preacher in 1968 and served within the Methodist Church until returning to the Anglican Church in the mid 1980’s)
Parish of Kirklees Valley, Bury, (All Saints, Elton & St James, Woolfold) – In the Diocese of Manchester

Collect for St German Cathedral Isle of Man
Opening prayer from the Association of English Cathedrals
Collect -The Archbishops Council 2004
Candle Image – Ed Schipul – Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0