Aside from conceiving the idea of a Basilica-Cathedral in St. John’s, Fleming was also responsible for the overall growth of the Catholic faith in Newfoundland, the formation of the Catholic education system in the province, and is largely credited with giving Catholics a political voice in provincial affairs during the 19th century.

In the summer of 2005, Bishop Fleming was designated as a Person of National Historical Significance by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada.
Aside from conceiving the idea of a Basilica-Cathedral in St. John’s, Fleming was also responsible for the overall growth of the Catholic faith in Newfoundland, the formation of the Catholic education system in the province, and is largely credited with giving Catholics a political voice in provincial affairs during the 19th century.

In the summer of 2005, Bishop Fleming was designated as a Person of National Historical Significance by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada.

© Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. John's 2006

Michael Anthony Fleming

Michael Anthony Fleming, Bishop of Newfoundland 1830-1850. Fleming is responsible for the construction of the Basilica-Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.

Archives of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. John's.
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. John's.

© Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. John's 2006


Bishop John Thomas Mullock, a native of Limerick, was a priest in Cork, Ireland when Bishop Fleming recruited him to Newfoundland in 1847. Succeeding Fleming as Bishop in 1850, he completed and consecrated the Cathedral in 1855. Aside from his involvement in political issues, he was a strong proponent of the construction of a trans-Atlantic telegraph to link the North America with Ireland.
Bishop John Thomas Mullock, a native of Limerick, was a priest in Cork, Ireland when Bishop Fleming recruited him to Newfoundland in 1847. Succeeding Fleming as Bishop in 1850, he completed and consecrated the Cathedral in 1855. Aside from his involvement in political issues, he was a strong proponent of the construction of a trans-Atlantic telegraph to link the North America with Ireland.

© Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. John's 2006

Bishop John Thomas Mullock

Bishop John Thomas Mullock, 1850-1869. Mullock is responsible with for the construction of the Episcopal Library and St Bonaventure's College.

Archives of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. John's.
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. John's.

© Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. John's 2006


Mullock certainly inherited Fleming’s sense of ambition. In 1856, he opened St. Bonaventure’s College and seminary which has been an active educational institution ever since. It was placed in the hands of the Christian Brothers in 1889 and later given to the Jesuits in 1999. St. Bon’s was constructed from granite building blocks from Waterford that had originally been intended for the construction of a Penitentiary. In 1989, it was designated as a Registered Heritage Structure.

Mullock also established the Bishop’s residence and library, located to the west of the Basilica. In 1921, the residence burned and was rebuilt. The library was founded in 1859 as a reading room for the college as well as for the public. Mullock himself was an avid reader and scholar who contributed some 2,500 books to the reading room. The library has recently been converted into a museum displaying artifacts and Mullock’s rare book collection containing publications dating back as early as 1524.
Mullock certainly inherited Fleming’s sense of ambition. In 1856, he opened St. Bonaventure’s College and seminary which has been an active educational institution ever since. It was placed in the hands of the Christian Brothers in 1889 and later given to the Jesuits in 1999. St. Bon’s was constructed from granite building blocks from Waterford that had originally been intended for the construction of a Penitentiary. In 1989, it was designated as a Registered Heritage Structure.

Mullock also established the Bishop’s residence and library, located to the west of the Basilica. In 1921, the residence burned and was rebuilt. The library was founded in 1859 as a reading room for the college as well as for the public. Mullock himself was an avid reader and scholar who contributed some 2,500 books to the reading room. The library has recently been converted into a museum displaying artifacts and Mullock’s rare book collection containing publications dating back as early as 1524.

© Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. John's 2006

St Bonaventure's College with the Basilica

St Bonaventure's College with the Basilica. To the right is Fort Townsend, current home of The Rooms (Provincial Archives, Museum and Art Gallery).

Archives of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. John's.
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. John's.

© Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. John's 2006


Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • describe the importance of the Bishops in the development of the Catholic faith in Newfoundland

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