"How fearful is this place! It is the house of God and gate of Heaven, and it shall be called the court of God".
(Introit of Mass for Consecration of a church)
The Foundation Stone of St. Peter's was laid and blessed by Bishop Clifford on 26th May 1859 and on 22nd March 1860 he presided at the Solemn Opening. Just eight and a half years later, the church, free of debt, was solemnly consecrated and again by Bishop Clifford, who incidentally was a Baron in his own right. We have no details of the total cost but it is indeed quite remarkable that a church of the size and beauty of St. Peter's could have been free of debt in such a short time. Dr. Case of course devoted a considerable amount of his private Income towards the cost but there must have been other generous donors as well.
The actual consecration ceremony commenced on the evening of October 7th, when the Bishop sealed into a casket relics of martyrs and other saints. The following day, October 8th, the formal consecration took place. Mgr. Bonomi, the then Vicar General of Clifton, handed to the Press a detailed description of the ceremony and this was published in full in the local papers. A few extracts will suffice for our purpose.
On the morning of October 8th the Bishop, Clergy and congregation assembled outside the church. The Bishop recited prayers and then recalling the Holy Trinity proceeded three times around the church, twice to the right and once to the left, each time knocking on the door with his pastoral staff, demanding entry. At the third time, he entered, knelt and intoned the "Veni Creator", followed by the Litanies.
Ashes were now sprinkled on the floor of the church and in these the Bishop traced letters in Latin and Greek. The high altar and interior walls were then sprinkled with holy water and the relics were placed in a cavity in the altar and sealed. The altar and church walls were anointed with chrism and the Bishop then celebrated Holy Mass.