My book Why Religions Work explores religious tolerance issues. It could not be more relevant at the moment with the world in its present state.
This blog has concentrated recently on the wonderful pilgrimages I have been on - to the Holy Land and to Turkey and more recently to Holy Georgia , Greece "In the Steps of St Paul" , Ethiopia and most recently my experiences in Iran.

"If I was allowed another life I would go to all the places of God's Earth. What better way to worship God than to look on all his works?" from The Chains of Heaven: an Ethiopian Romance Philip Marsden

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Adelaide City of Churches - the other cathedral, the Catholic one.

So now I come to the other cathedral, the older one, the Catholic one - dedicated to Saint Francis Xavier, patron of missionary countries, and patron to their first bishop, Francis Murphy (1844-1858)
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.

But it all got off to a rocky start as 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 doors going in to the central nave feature stained glass panels of coats of arms of various popes and bishops, and of the city of Adelaide, and other symbols representing the phoenix, pelican, Baptism and the Eucharist for example. 
Three beautiful stained glass windows dominating the chancel, showing significant events in the lives of Jesus and Mary.

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?

Then as I was walking back from visiting other churches - another day - another story or two to tell - I found this plaque on a rock in, I think, Hindmarsh Square. It commemorates the first mass for the Catholic community celebrated on South Australia soil on 13th June 1840, long before the building of the cathedral - an example of "church" as a body of Christian worshippers without the need for a building as such.

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