St. Mary's Catholic Church is an emblem of Gothic Revival architecture on the west bank of the River Ness in Inverness. Constructed in 1837 by the architect Robertson of Elgin, the church became a significant symbol as the first Catholic tower to be built following the Reformation. Its detailed design closely resembles the now-demolished St. John's Church on Church Street, also by the same architect.
The church is strategically located among a chain of exciting churches on both sides of the river. Its façade features crocheted pinnacles and open parapets, a distinct era characteristic. The doors seem to welcome visitors most days, and from the dam opposite the entrance, onlookers can enjoy splendid views upstream towards Inverness Castle.
On Huntly Street, across the river from St. Columba High Church, St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church is a prominent feature. Inside, visitors are greeted by an altar made of Caen stone and adorned with beautiful stained glass windows. As the congregation grew, the original structure built by William Robertson in 1837 became insufficient. The building was subsequently expanded in 1894 to accommodate the increasing number of worshippers.
The church was opened on 2 April 1837, providing a place of worship for Catholics, who were previously confined to worshipping on Margaret Street. At that time, the church was known to the town "as a place where Lord Lovat and the tinkers worshipped." The Catholic population in Inverness was estimated to be around 400 in 1846.
Generous donations led to the construction of the presbytery at £1,200 in 1888 due to the benevolence of Miss Jessie McDonell. On 22 August 1894, a solemn re-opening of the church occurred as the sanctuary had been remodelled to seat 250 extra worshippers. An altar designed by Peter Paul Pugin and built by Carruthers of Inverness was installed, along with Stations of the Cross. The sanctuary later underwent further remodelling in 2014 to conform to liturgical changes heralded by the Second Vatican Council.
Complementing the church was a school built in 1845, initially staffed by Franciscan nuns. The original building was replaced in 1943, reflecting the evolving educational needs of the community. Sunday morning services at St. Mary's Church begin at 10:00 A.M., continuing a tradition of faith and community that has been a part of Inverness's spiritual landscape for nearly two centuries.