ST HELENS has been knocked off top spot for boasting the highest percentage of Christians... by neighbouring Knowsley.
The results of the 2011 nationwide census, published last week, reveal that the borough now has the third highest percentage of Christians in England and Wales.
In 2001, St Helens came out on top.
Still, some 78.8 per cent of local respondents - 138,172 people - said they were Christians in the census results collated since the responses were returned in March last year.
In neighbouring Knowsley, 80.9 per cent of respondents said they were Christians.
Bill Matthews, the vicar at both St Thomas CE off Westfield Street and St Mark’s in North Road, said: “I think the fact that we have a number of Christian schools in St Helens probably helps to enable people to see more clearly what Christianity is about.
“Some people opt out of Christianity if they don’t understand what it’s all about, but with Christian schools that’s less likely to happen. Anything which improves our understanding of people of faith can only be a good thing.
“I would think for many people that following their faith makes them consider how they can best be good citizens and good neighbours.
“And we see some wonderfully generous acts of kindness in St Helens - even more so at this time of year.”
Among the other interesting details revealed in the latest census was that St Helens has the lowest population density on Merseyside, at just 12.9 people per hectare of land.
It also showed that, of the 175,308 residents of St Helens, more than 1,000 are aged 90 and over, more than 67,000 are married, 13,259 divorced and more than 230 are in a same sex civil partnership.
Astonishingly, in more than a third of households - 25,361 - there are no adults in employment and 39,950 people reported that they had no qualifications.
In addition, one in five residents said they did not hold a passport and more than 14,500 classed themselves as being in either “bad” or “very bad” health.
A staggering 6,473 people said they provided at least 50 hours a week of unpaid care to a friend or relative and more than 7,500 people reported working 49 hours-plus a week to help make ends meet.
And in terms of the ethnic mix, St Helens has among the highest number of white British people and less than 250 black people - of varying backgrounds - living in the borough.