The name “Woolos” is a corruption of Gwynllyw, the 5th century Welsh saint who first founded a religious establishment on the site.
The present building has sections that date from pre- Norman times, but has been partially rebuilt or extended in every period up to the 1960s. In 1929 St Woolos became the Pro-Cathedral of the new Diocese of Monmouth, attaining full cathedral status in 1949. With the Enthronement of Rowan Williams as Archbishop of Wales in February 2000, the Cathedral became the Metropolitan Cathedral for Wales for the third time in its life. The Cathedral continues to serve Wales, the diocese and the City of Newport; it also serves as a large parish.
It is also a place of pilgrimage for political and industrial historians – a plaque in the church yard commemorates the bloody suppression of the Chartist rebellion here in 1839.