Roman Catholic Diocese of Northampton

Diocese of Northampton
Dioecesis Northantoniensis

Coat of arms of the Bishop Peter John Haworth Doyle
Country England
Territory The shires of Bedford, Buckingham, and Northampton, and that part of Berkshire (formerly in Buckinghamshire) that lies to the north of the River Thames.
Ecclesiastical province Westminster
Metropolitan Westminster
Area 3,419 km2 (1,320 sq mi)
- Total
- Catholics
(as of 2013)
182,500 (8.7%)
Parishes 70
Denomination Roman Catholic
Rite Latin Rite
Established 29 September 1850
Cathedral Northampton Cathedral
Secular priests 92
Current leadership
Pope Francis
Bishop Peter John Haworth Doyle
Metropolitan Archbishop Vincent Nichols
Vicar General Provost Séan Healy
Emeritus Bishops Patrick Leo McCartie

Diocese of Northampton within the Province of Wesminster

The Diocese of Northampton is one of the 22 Roman Catholic dioceses in England and Wales and a Latin Rite suffragan diocese of Westminster. Its see is in Northampton. The Cathedral of Our Lady Immaculate and St Thomas of Canterbury is the mother church of the Diocese.


The diocese now covers the counties of Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire under its pre-1974 historic boundaries. Until 1976, the counties of Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk were included; they now form the Diocese of East Anglia.


When St Augustine came from Rome in 597 he concentrated on the areas of Kent and Essex, but thirty years later the area that the Northampton Diocese covers finally received the Christian message, with the arrival of the missionary St Birinius and the foundation of his see at Dorchester-on-Thames in 636. Nevertheless, the real evangelisation of the people who dwelt in the diocese was achieved through the labours and missionaries of the isle of Lindisfarne, off the Northumbrian coast. Notable amongst them was St Chad, whose see, established at Lichfield in 669, included the present diocese of Northampton.

From the time of the Reformation until 1850, Catholic dioceses ceased to exist in Britain. However, in 1688 England was divided into four Apostolic vicariates, with Northampton under the authority of the Vicar Apostolic of the Midland District. In 1840, the Apostolic Vicariate of the Eastern District was created out of the Midland District. On the restoration of the Catholic hierarchy in England and Wales by Pope Pius IX on 29 September 1850, most of the Eastern District became the Diocese of Northampton. Its first bishop was William Wareing, previously Vicar Apostolic of the Eastern District.

On 13 March 1976, by decree Quod Ecumenicum, Pope Paul VI formed the Diocese of East Anglia for the counties of Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk by detaching these counties from the Diocese of Northampton.

Diocesan Coat of Arms

The motto under the shield translates as 'Do right and lead to charity'. On the shield are lilies and choughs, which are symbols of the two patrons of the Diocese, and of the Cathedral, Blessed Virgin Mary and St Thomas of Canterbury.


The current Bishop of Northampton is Peter John Haworth Doyle, born on 3 May 1944 at Wilpshire, near Blackburn in Lancashire.

Bishop Patrick Leo McCartie is the bishop emeritus of Northampton, having retired on 29 Mar 2001 after serving the diocese for 11 years. He was succeeded by bishop Kevin John Patrick McDonald who went on to be appointed Archbishop of Southwark on 6 November 2003.


Main article: Bishop of Northampton


The estimated Catholic population of the diocese in 2004 was 173,539 while the total population in the diocesan territory was 2,000,769. The diocese covers a territory of 5,532 km² and has 68 parishes.


The Northampton Diocese makes up part of the Catholic Association Pilgrimage.

See also

Coordinates: 52°14′53″N 0°53′55″W / 52.2481°N 0.8985°W / 52.2481; -0.8985

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