Province of Cape Town
Patrons: Our Lady of the Flight into Egypt and St Patrick
Archbishop Stephen Brislin
Ordained Bishop of Kroonstad on 28 January 2007. Installed as Archbishop of Cape Town on 7 February 2010, on the Solemnity of Our Lady of the Flight into Egypt, the patronal feast of the Archdiocese of Cape Town
PO Box 2910, Cape Town 8001.
Residence: Cathedral Place, 12 Bouquet Street.
Tel: 021 462 2417
Fax: 021 461 9330
Coat of Arms and Motto
- Rt Rev Patrick Raymund Griffith, OP, Titular Bishop of Palaeopolis; consecrated 24 August 1837, Vicar Apostolic of the Cape of Good Hope; died 18 June 1862.
- Rt Rev Thomas Grimley, Titular Bishop of Antigone; consecrated 25 January 1861; died 29 January 1871.
- Rt Rev John Leonard, Titular Bishop of Charadro; consecrated 15 December 1872; died 19 February 1908.
- Rt Rev John Rooney, Titular Bishop of Sergiopolis; consecrated 21 September 1886; retired 1924; died 26 February 1927.
- Rt Rev Bernard Cornelius O’Riley, Titular Bishop of Anastasiopolis or Phoba; consecrated 6 January 1926; retired 6 June 1932; died 21 July 1956.
- Rt Rev Bishop F Hennemann, SAC, Titular Bishop of Coptus; consecrated 6 April 1914; Appointed to the Vicariate of Cape Town 30 June 1933; nominated Assistant at the Pontifical Throne 18 May 1939; died 17 January 1951.
- His Eminence Owen Cardinal McCann, ordained Vicar Apostolic of Cape Town, 18 May 1950; Appointed Archbishop of Cape Town 11 January 1951; Created Cardinal 22 February 1965; Retired 16 December 1984, died 26 March 1994.
- Most Rev Stephen Naidoo CSsR, ordained Auxiliary Bishop of Cape Town 15 September 1974, installed as Archbishop of Cape Town 16 December 1984, died 1 July 1989.
- Rt Rev Bishop Reginald Cawcutt. Nominated Titular Bishop of Cabra on 29th May 1992, ordained Auxiliary Bishop of Cape Town on 26th August 1992, resigned 17th July 2002.
- Most Rev Archbishop Lawrence Henry was Nominated Titular Bishop of Cenculiana on the 16 May 1987. Ordained Auxiliary Bishop of Cape Town on the 16 August 1987, elected Diocesan Administrator on 3rd July 1989, appointed Archbishop of Cape Town on the 17 July 1990 and was installed on the 29 August 1990. Resigned 18 December 2009. Died 4th March 2014.
History of the Diocese
Long before the arrival of the Dutch East India Company, Portuguese navigators had consecrated the land by erecting stone crosses and naming landmarks in honour of the Deity, the Blessed Virgin, and the Saints; but from the founding of the Cape Colony in 1652 no Divine Worship was permitted except according to the Dutch Reformed tradition. Soon after the first British seizure of the Cape in 1795, the Holy See’s first efforts to evangelise southern Africa were frustrated by the tumult caused by the French Revolution. In 1803, following the restoration of the colony to the Dutch, she negotiated aid from the Batavian government for two Dutch priests to serve as army chaplains. Accompanied by a third priest mandated by the Holy See to evangelise the “Ottentoti”, they arrived in October 1805 but four months later the newly victorious British repatriated all three along with the Dutch garrison.
On 7 June 1818, Pope Pius Vll erected the Vicariate “of the Cape of Good Hope with adjacent territories, and the island of Madagascar”, entrusting it to the English Benedictine Bede Slater to whom, the following year, the Mauritius Vicariate was also confided (March) as were the Australian colonies (April). On New Year’s Day 1820, breaking his voyage to Mauritius, Bishop Slater left Fr Scully at Cape Town to serve the resident Catholics (mostly Irish soldiers). Scully built a church and parsonage and was succeeded by a Dutch priest Rev. Wagener and an English Benedictine Rev. Rishton (whose ministries overlapped). Fray Moral, a Spanish Dominican priest, ministered during calendar 1836. Slater, meanwhile, had been recalled from Mauritius and replaced by another Benedictine, Bishop Morris. In 1834 Gregory XVI relieved Morris of Australia and three years later of the reduced Cape Vicariate (Madagascar had been detached in 1829).
The Irish Dominican Patrick Griffith was appointed the first resident bishop for southern Africa in 1837 (the Briefs are dated 6 June). He disembarked at Cape Town on Holy Saturday 1838 (14 April). In July 1847, at his request, Pope Pius IX divided the Cape of Good Hope Vicariate into two: the Western District and the Eastern District.
Following a request made by Bishop Grimley in 1870 while in Rome for the Vatican Council, an Apostolic Brief dated 11 August 1874 announced the division of the Western Vicariate by the deduction of the Central Prefecture extending from Mossel Bay in the south-east to Namaqualand in the north. In 1885 lack of personnel obliged the Society of African Missions to resign the Prefecture. The southern part (now the diocese of Oudtshoorn) temporarily reverted to the bishop in Cape Town, and the northern part (now the dioceses of Keimoes-Upington and Keetmanshoop) was entrusted to the Oblates of St Francis de Sales.
In 1922 the southern part of the Central Prefecture was entrusted to the German Pallottines. On 13 June 1939, the names of the Western and Eastern Vicariates were changed to Cape Town and Port Elizabeth respectively.
On 11 January 1951, Pope Pius Xll established the ecclesiastical hierarchy in southern Africa, elevating the vicariates to the rank of diocese organised as four ecclesiastical provinces each headed by an archdiocese. These incorporated all the ecclesiastical territories within the Republic of South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, and Botswana. Owen McCann (Vicar Apostolic since May 1950) was the first archbishop of Cape Town.
Further structural development has taken place since with the creation of new dioceses and the erection in 2007 of the province of Johannesburg and the reallocation of some suffragan sees.
The archdiocese is bounded on the north by the diocese of Keimoes-Upington, on the east by the diocese of Oudtshoorn, on the south by the Indian Ocean and on the west by the Atlantic Ocean. It comprises the City of Cape Town Metropolitan Municipality and these Local Municipalities: Swartland, Saldanha Bay, Bergrivier, Cederberg (West Coast District); Drakenstein, Stellenbosch (Cape Winelands District); Theewaterskloof, Overstrand and Cape Agulhas (Overberg District).
The islands of St Helena, Tristan da Cunha and Ascension were part of the Archdiocese of Cape Town from 1852 until 18 August 1986 when they were erected as a mission sui juris and transferred to the Prefecture of the Falklands with an Apostolic Administrator being Ecclesial Superior for these islands. This mission sui juris is one of only several others in the world and comes directly under the Congregation for the Evangelisation of the Peoples in Rome and the Holy Father. Since 1986 until 2008 the Prefecture had been in the care of the Mill Hill Fathers and priests of the Society of African Missions, but in 2016 Abbot Hugh Allan, OPraem was appointed with Episcopal rights and responsibilities as Prefect and Apostolic Superior.
The church dedicated to the Sacred Heart on the Island of St Helena was inaugurated for the first time in November 1852 by visiting Bishop Patrick Griffith, OP, Vicar Apostolate of the Western District (of the Cape of Good Hope) when he confirmed some 30-odd candidates.
The parish church on the Island of St Helena has the unique feature of being the oldest extant building after the cathedral in the Archdiocese, followed later by the re-building of the church in Simonstown.
Area: 30 892 sq. km.
Total Pop: 4 534 234
Cath Pop: 256 588 (2018)
Rt Rev Bishop Sylvester David OMI, Auxiliary Bishop of Cape Town.
The Chancery, 12 Bouquet Street; PO Box 2910, Cape Town 8000.
Tel: 021 462 2417
Fax: 021 461 9330.