Actually followers of this blog will know that the Catholic Cathedral is only older than the Anglican Cathedral by just a few years.
What mattered to me was that both cathedrals stand proud in their own territories, neither dwarfed by adjacent high rise blocks, which sadly is the fate of many of the churches I tracked down in this beautiful city.
And joy of joys, it was open! (7.30 am to 6.30 pm the website tells us - and that it is a busy church with several daily masses). And as a result there was a steady stream of people coming and going, lighting candles, kneeling in prayer, some just sitting quietly in their own space, meditating or simply taking in the atmosphere around them, perhaps seeking solace in the spirituality and peace of the place. Private times - meeting the needs of that moment - and what a church is all about after all!
Much of what is written here I found in the information leaflet I picked up at the door which warmly welcomed me and invited me to walk around and take photos if I wished. It just asked for mobile phones to be switched off, and for visitors not to walk around during a service. Actually I felt a wee bit intrusive taking photos anyway - and was very careful to move around very quietly and as unobtrusively as possible. The peace and spirituality of the place was palpable.
Work began on this lovely building in 1851, and it was so designed tht it could be put up in stages as money became available - a very practical plan.
the lure of the gold rush in Victoria was too much for the architect and most of the labour force who went to seek fortune elsewhere! In spite of such difficulties the first foundation stone was laid in 1856 and stage one of the cathedral was opened and blessed in 1858.
Work continued in stages and the tower was completed as recently as 1996, the whole cathedral dedicated on 11th July 1996 by Archbishop Faulkner. So perhaps that man on the road crossing (see previous blog) thought of this cathedral as the new one after all!?
Some things to look out for:
The octagonal font, and behind this the statue of St John the Baptist, both carved in Tuscany, Italy, in 1925.
The pulpit was carved by a South Australian wood carver W Price, and is dedicated to those who died in World War 1. It features grapes and vines, a 14th cntury design, symbolising the Eucharist.
This statue caught my eye before I even entered the cathedral. It is of Mary MacKillop, Australia's first saint, recognised for her pioneering work in education. The sculptor was J Rolovink.Isn't it lovely?