The oldest Catholic cathedral in the country, St. Mary's is intimately linked with the history and development of the Catholic Church in South Africa over a period of more than 175 years.
The local bishop bought the land in 1839 and the church was consecrated on April 28, 1851. In 1951 the church became a Cathedral when Pope Pius XII elevated the apostolic vicariate of Cape Town to the status of metropolitan archdiocese.
The last Cathedral restoration was done in 1997 by Architect Denise Corna Boers. The roof was cut back to the original position and the crenelations were reintroduced to the parapets. The tower with the Irish bell weighing 2200 kgs was retained. The sanctuary was remodelled with the altar brought forward to face the congregation and a Crown of Thorns was suspended over the altar area.
The Cathedral has 17 stained glass windows. The elaborate oak pulpit was carved in Cape Town and erected for the dedication in 1851. The 2,1 m high white marble angel holy water font was designed by a Dublin Architect Mr. O'Callaghan and presented to the Cathedral in 1896. Maud Sumner's Paintings of the Stations of Cross adorn the Cathedral walls and an original Crucifiction painting by the Van Dyk school - presented by Emperor Napoleon 3, is housed in the North-West transept.