Fr James Foley, who became parish priest in 1860, bought this plot in 1866 for £5,125. The architect was George Goldie, well known for his love of the Gothic style. The foundation stone was laid on 14 May, 1867. The site was large, but awkward, extending 300 feet back from the High Street with a very narrow frontage of only 33 feet, compared to the far end of 65 feet. The Church was opened on the feast of the Visitation--2 July, 1869.
Bishop Tray celebrated pontifical High Mass, and Archbishop Manning (later Cardinal) preached the sermon. On the night of 13 September, 1940, during a large scale air raid, the Church was destroyed as was the Carmelite Church in Church Street. Worship continued in a local cinema, the Cavendish Furnishing Company store, the Assumption Chapel in Kensington Square, and lastly the Congregational Chapel in Allen Street.
On 31 October, 1958, the doors of the current building were opened, with the official opening by Cardinal Godfrey on 6 April, 1959. Fr Charles Cox, one of the curates at the time, composed the music of the favourite catholic hymn “Sweet Sacrament Divine.”
In 1921, GK Chesterton was received into the Catholic Church and made his first communion at OLV. In 1869, Cardinal Manning named OLV as his pro Cathedral. It remained so, until the opening of Westminster Cathedral in 1903.
We celebrate the faith of our predecessors, brothers and sisters, the people, religious and clergy who have worshiped, served, and cherished this place as their spiritual home. Today we welcome our present Archbishop, His Eminence Cardinal Vincent Nichols, who will preside and celebrate this Solemn Mass. Our preacher is the Revd Canon Michael Brockie, Provost of the Cathedral Chapter of Westminster.
We welcome, too, Fr Patrick Ryall OSM, Dean of the Kensington and Chelsea Deanery. We have so much to thank God for. We have a lively multi-cultural parish with so many faithful people who are the living stones of The Church of Jesus Christ.
1794: The mission is re-established
1813: Holland Street Chapel opens
1869: The Church opens
1940: The Church is destroyed
1994: The parish celebrates 200 years
2019: 150th anniversary of the first Church on this site.
Every Sunday, Mgr Jim Curry provides updates on the parish.