The true beauty of the artwork in the Basilica-Cathedral lies in its portrayal of history on both a local and international level. Each year, tourists visit to admire the various embellishments adorning the Basilica walls. The artwork and decor is comparable to that of any Cathedral in the world, yet there are several pieces of art whose origins are specifically relevant to local historical events within Newfoundland.
The true beauty of the artwork in the Basilica-Cathedral lies in its portrayal of history on both a local and international level. Each year, tourists visit to admire the various embellishments adorning the Basilica walls. The artwork and decor is comparable to that of any Cathedral in the world, yet there are several pieces of art whose origins are specifically relevant to local historical events within Newfoundland.

© Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. John's 2006

At the time of Fleming’s death in 1850, St. John’s was still coping with the ravages of the Fire of 1846 which had left most of the small town in the midst of poverty, homelessness, and despair. After his installation in 1850, Mullock was responsible for the completion of the Cathedral which would take another five years to consecrate. The ledger in Fleming’s right hand is meant to symbolize the architectural drawings of the uncompleted Cathedral, and the girl below represents the social programs and welfare of the town’s less-fortunate that Mullock was relied upon to maintain.
At the time of Fleming’s death in 1850, St. John’s was still coping with the ravages of the Fire of 1846 which had left most of the small town in the midst of poverty, homelessness, and despair. After his installation in 1850, Mullock was responsible for the completion of the Cathedral which would take another five years to consecrate. The ledger in Fleming’s right hand is meant to symbolize the architectural drawings of the uncompleted Cathedral, and the girl below represents the social programs and welfare of the town’s less-fortunate that Mullock was relied upon to maintain.

© Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. John's 2006

Fleming and Mullock

This sculpture is a depiction of Bishop Fleming (left) bestowing the duties of the Church upon his successor, Bishop Mullock

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


When Bishop Michael Anthony Fleming arrived in Newfoundland in 1823, it was under the invitation of the current Bishop, Bishop Thomas Scallon. As time progressed, it became apparent that both men had very different approaches to helping the Church become an important institution within the community. Scallon had always been willing to collaborate with the Anglican Church, supported by the British Crown. Bishop Fleming, a close friend of the ardent Irish nationalist Daniel O’Connell, strove for a more assertive Catholic presence within the colony of Newfoundland, and the men were known to clash on various issues. Consequently, when Bishop Scallon died in 1830, a rumour began to circulate around St. John’s that Bishop Fleming had refused to give Scallon the Last Rites of the Catholic Church - this would have been considered an outrageous crime for a succeeding Bishop to commit. To dispel the myth, Fleming commissioned this sculpture depicting him giving Scallon the Last Rites of the Church to prove that he had in fact done so. However, there are still scholars who believe that the Last Rites were never carried out.
When Bishop Michael Anthony Fleming arrived in Newfoundland in 1823, it was under the invitation of the current Bishop, Bishop Thomas Scallon. As time progressed, it became apparent that both men had very different approaches to helping the Church become an important institution within the community. Scallon had always been willing to collaborate with the Anglican Church, supported by the British Crown. Bishop Fleming, a close friend of the ardent Irish nationalist Daniel O’Connell, strove for a more assertive Catholic presence within the colony of Newfoundland, and the men were known to clash on various issues. Consequently, when Bishop Scallon died in 1830, a rumour began to circulate around St. John’s that Bishop Fleming had refused to give Scallon the Last Rites of the Catholic Church - this would have been considered an outrageous crime for a succeeding Bishop to commit. To dispel the myth, Fleming commissioned this sculpture depicting him giving Scallon the Last Rites of the Church to prove that he had in fact done so. However, there are still scholars who believe that the Last Rites were never carried out.

© Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. John's 2006

Fleming and Scallon

Fleming and Scallon

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


This is a cenotaph in memory of Miss Mary Ann Bulger. The patron of this memorial is unknown. Miss Bulger was the unmarried daughter of Captain John Bulger of the Newfoundland Regiment. She was 60 at the time of her passing, and she is buried in the Basilica. She was a generous benefactress of the church, bequeathing one thousand pounds towards its construction. She also directed in her will that her rights and titles to property in Ireland be assigned towards the building of the Cathedral, and her personal belongings be sold for the benefit of the poor.

Below is a copy of the inscription on the memorial:

This monument is erected to the memory of Miss Mary Ann Bulger
Who departed this life on the 9th of March 1847 In the 60th year of her age
May she rest in peace
This is a cenotaph in memory of Miss Mary Ann Bulger. The patron of this memorial is unknown. Miss Bulger was the unmarried daughter of Captain John Bulger of the Newfoundland Regiment. She was 60 at the time of her passing, and she is buried in the Basilica. She was a generous benefactress of the church, bequeathing one thousand pounds towards its construction. She also directed in her will that her rights and titles to property in Ireland be assigned towards the building of the Cathedral, and her personal belongings be sold for the benefit of the poor.

Below is a copy of the inscription on the memorial:

This monument is erected to the memory of Miss Mary Ann Bulger
Who departed this life on the 9th of March 1847 In the 60th year of her age
May she rest in peace

© Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. John's 2006

Mary Ann Bulger Memorial

Mary Ann Bulger Memorial

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:
  • identify some of the artwork that are scattered in the cathedral

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