Melbourne Daily Photo

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Waltzing Australia

Monday, 11 January 2010

St. Francis' Church - Victoria's oldest Catholic Church

St. Francis' Church - West Window, Elizabeth Street
St Francis' Church, the oldest Catholic church in Victoria is located on the corner of Lonsdale Street and Elizabeth Street and is one of only three buildings in central Melbourne which predates the Gold Rush of 1851. The "mother church of Victoria", St Francis’ Church was commissioned by the Franciscan priest, Fr Patrick Bonaventure Geoghegan, and the foundation stone was laid on 4 October 1841, the feast day of St Francis of Assisi, to whom the church is dedicated. The first mass was celebrated in the completed nave of the church on 22 May 1842. The church was blessed and opened on 23 October 1845.


View south, Lonsdale Street
The building looming over the church is the Melbourne Central office building which is Melbourne's sixth tallest building, with 54 floors and standing 246m high.


St. Francis' 1845
In 1848 St. Francis became Melbourne's first Catholic Cathedral and was the Episcopal seat of Bishop James Alipius Goold O.S.A. and remained so until 1868, when the diocesan seat was moved to (the still unfinished) St Patrick's Cathedral.

Blessed Mary MacKillop (1842–1909) made her first communion at St Francis’ in 1850, the same year that Ned Kelly’s parents were married in the church. (Ned Kelly is Victoria's most (in)famous bushranger).
(Lithograph National Library Australia)


St.Francis' 1861
St Francis’ Church became a eucharistic shrine in 1929, when the Archdiocese of Melbourne entrusted its care to the Blessed Sacrament Congregation.

St. Francis' 1930


A religious community of priests and brothers (currently under the leadership of Fr Tom Knowles SSS) live in the monastery attached to St Francis’ Church. The St Francis’ community was the subject of the five-part television documentary Once Were Monks, which was broadcast on SBS Television in April 2000.

Today, St Francis is the busiest church in Australia, with forty-three masses and over 10,000 visiting worshippers each week.

St. Francis is listed with the Victorian Heritage Register, the National Trust of Australia (Victoria) and the Australian Heritage Commission. Although there have been many changes made to the building, including the erection of a new tower to house the original 1853 bell imported from Dublin, the church remains essentially as it was designed by Samuel Jackson.

Today's Quote: Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words - St. Francis of Assisi.

15 comments:

Luis Gomez said...

Wonderful church. Love your pictures.

BlossomFlowerGirl said...

Luis - Thanks for the compliment. The old churches have so much more style than modern ones.

Cheers.

brattcat said...

I really like the way you capture the contrast between that serene looking church and the highrise behind it.

Leif Hagen said...

WOW - you really did your homework on this one, BFG! A heavenly church - nice photos! Sorry to ask but could we take a peek inside, too??

BTW, every time I drive by one of our local post offices I think to myself - nothing compared to the PO building in Melbourne!

Cezar and Léia said...

no doubt an impressive church and so beautiful pictures.The first one is outstanding, I loved the angle in this shot!
Léia

Johnny said...

For a century and a half is very well preserved

Karen said...

Loved this post!!! I felt like I was right there. Beautiful photo.

Jacob said...

A super post. Hard to believe the church is that old! But it's nice to see it in such great condition. Sounds like a busy place!

JM said...

Beautiful architecture and I like the contrast to the modern building on the second pic.

Autumn Belle @ KDP said...

I prefer the architecture of old churches to the modern ones. They look welcoming, calm and serene.

In Three Rivers, Michigan said...

I like the way you have angled the first photo so the window really seems to soar. That is probably the way it was meant to feel - it's too bad huge modern buildings are built around these old churches, that formerly looked so big! Loved the old pictures too (and the church link to Ned Kelly!)

Three Rivers Daily Photo

Liz said...

You look like you have a very nice blog here. I like the fact that you combine photos with interesting facts.

I loved the trivia about Mary McKillop having her first communion in the church in the same year that Ned Kelly's parents were married there.

Carletta said...

Lovely detail of the window!
Such wonderful historical significance.

VP said...

Great post about a very interesting church. The first image against the modern building is really great.

Wolynski said...

Beautiful church - pity it's dwarfed by the office building - still, very pretty.

Melbourne Daily Photo

Hello, I created this blog because Melbourne is my city and I want people to see what a beautiful place it is. So come with me on a journey of discovery as we traverse the dining precincts, the culture, the laneways and hidden gems that make Melbourne marvellous.