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Museum of Canada

Architectural Importance

The Basilica-Cathedral of St. John the Baptist is one of the earliest instances of the Romanesque style of architecture in the New World, yet its context and significance extend far beyond Canadian borders. Inspired by the medieval Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Italy, the St. John's Cathedral was built with two towers, and inspired the construction of many buildings beyond the shores of Newfoundland and Labrador.

When Archbishop John Hughes of New York arrived in St. John's for the consecration in September 1855, he was very impressed by the size and extent of the Basilica. Returning to New York, he was inspired to build St. Patrick's Cathedral, the only Irish-built Cathedral in North America to eclipse the St. John's Cathedral in size.

In 1848 the Dominican Priory was constructed at Pope's Quay, Cork in Ireland, with a design similar to the towers of the St. John's Cathedral. In the mid-1860s, the famous Irish architect J.J. McCarthy designed Thurles Cathedral in Tipperary, with a large classical campanile. In Youghal, Co. Cork, by the end of the century, the Presentation Convent and School had been built with a campanile.

The Cathedral of St. John's preceded all of these structures, and their architectural similarities to the Basilica are proof that the structure exists in an international context of architectural significance.