The Harpenden Mission was founded in 1905 by Father Peter Louis Martin, a curate of St Albans. Mass – the first to be offered for three centuries in Harpenden – was said in the gymnasium in Vaughan Road and, for some years after, in a temporary ‘little iron chapel’ dedicated to Our Lady of the Sacred Heart.
The missionary zeal of Farther Martin was continued in 1919 by the arrival of Harpenden’s first resident Priest, Father Bernard Longstaff. A visionary and a great fundraiser, Father Longstaff had helped Harpenden achieve parish status by 1923.
The early 1920s also saw the arrival of Catholic education in Harpenden through a fee paying convent school run by Dominican nuns. The sisters left Harpenden in 1978 but the school they instituted – dedicated to St Dominic – is now flourishing.
As the number of parishioners continued to grow a new church was commissioned to replace the ‘little iron chapel’. In 1928 Cardinal Bourne laid the foundation stone for the present day church, dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes. Thanks to the fundraising efforts of the parishioners the building costs of £19,940 were cleared allowing the church to be consecrated in 1936 by his Grace, Archbishop Hinsley, Archbishop of Westminster
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