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St Mary's Cathedral, Perth

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Title: St Mary's Cathedral, Perth  
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Subject: Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Perth, Murray Street, Perth, Roman Catholicism in Australia, St Francis Xavier's Cathedral, Adelaide, St. Mary's Cathedral
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St Mary's Cathedral, Perth

St Mary's Cathedral, Perth
The completed cathedral after repairs and expansion, pictured in July 2010
Basic information
Location Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Geographic coordinates
Affiliation Roman Catholic
District Metropolitan Archdiocese of Perth
Year consecrated 29 January 1865 (Stage 1)
9 December 2009 (Stage 3)
Ecclesiastical or organizational status Cathedral[1]
Leadership Archbishop Timothy Costelloe
Architectural description
Architectural type Church
Architectural style Academic Gothic
Groundbreaking 1863
Completed 2010

St Mary's Cathedral, Perth, officially the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Perth, and seat of its Archbishop, currently Timothy Costelloe.

The cathedral is at the centre of Victoria Square, on the northern end of Victoria Avenue, Perth, Western Australia.

The cathedral as it now stands was constructed in three main phases, with the first phase completed in 1865. Plans were drawn up for the replacement of the cathedral in the 1920s with a larger Perpendicular Gothic edifice. However, construction was interrupted by the onset of the Great Depression, leaving a new transept and sanctuary, with the aisle of the original cathedral as its nave. After 70 years incomplete, and portions of the cathedral requiring extensive repair work, funds were eventually raised in the late 1990s and early 2000s for the completion of the expansion. A new curved design for the expansion was created, and featured a second spire and underground parish centre. The cathedral closed for construction in 2006, and reopened in December 2009.


  • History 1
    • First stage: 1865 to 1930 1.1
    • Second stage: 1930 to 1999 1.2
    • Third stage: 1999 to present 1.3
  • Gallery 2
  • See also 3
  • Notes 4
  • Further reading 5
  • External links 6


The first Roman Catholic church in the colony was St John's Pro-Cathedral on Victoria Avenue. The colony eventually outgrew this small church, and the local Bishop expressed an interest in constructing a "more worthy Cathedral".[2]

First stage: 1865 to 1930

The original cathedral building in 1894


  • St Mary's Cathedral
  • Catholic Archdiocese of Perth
  • Heritage Council of Western Australia database record

External links

  • Winship, John A. (2010). Our Cathedral : a history of St Mary's Cathedral, Perth, Western Australia (paperback). Perth, Western Australia: Archdiocese of Perth. p. 240.  

Further reading

  1. ^ "Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary". 15 January 2012. Retrieved 1 February 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q "Assessment Documentation – St Mary's Cathedral" (PDF). Western Australian Register of Heritage Places. Heritage Council of Western Australia. 10 October 1995. Retrieved 4 October 2009. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Catholic Archdiocese of Perth. "Brief History". Retrieved 4 October 2009. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Amanda Banks (17 December 2003). "Cathedral project on the move". The West Australian. 
  5. ^ a b c Peter Ward (16 February 2001). "Heritage Watch". The Australian. p. 43. 
  6. ^ a b Joseph Catanzaro (13 March 2009). "$7.5m cost blowout 'won't stop cathedral facelift'". The West Australian. p. 14. 
  7. ^ Geraldine Capp (15 June 2000). "Choir Sings Out For $170,000". The West Australian. p. 15. 
  8. ^  
  9. ^ Gary Kleyn (23 November 2000). Business News (Perth, Western Australia). p. 1. 
  10. ^ Pam Casellas; Yonnene Pearce (19 August 1999). "Tom The Tease Says Sorry To Forgiving Elsie After 77 Years". The West Australian. p. 2. 
  11. ^ "Fed: Green budget looks to south and north". Australian Associated Press. 10 May 2005. 
  12. ^ a b Staff writer (27 March 2007). "Call to help cathedral". Guardian Express. p. 5. 
  13. ^ a b c d e Katie Hampson (15 March 2007). "Perth digs deep to save cathedral". The West Australian. p. 7. 
  14. ^ Spinks, Bridget (13 July 2011). "Brady to join Bshops in crypt". The Record. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  15. ^ a b Kevin Gomez (1 May 2008). "Cathedral refurbishment gets a lift". Construction Contractor. p. 20. 
  16. ^ Dawn Gibson (4 July 2009). "Christmas re-opening date for cathedral". The West Australian. p. 14. 
  17. ^ "Archbishop's Welcome". St Mary's Appeal archives. Retrieved 14 September 2015. 
  18. ^ "2010 WA State Architecture Awards: Full List of Winners".  


See also


[18][17] The new design by Perth architect Peter M. Quinn won three architectural design awards from the Western Australian chapter of the

The completed Cathedral was officially opened by the then Archbishop of Perth, Barry Hickey on 8 December 2009, in a ceremony attended by the Apostolic Nuncio, Cardinal George Pell,33 bishops and 300 priests.

The new design includes increased seating for 1,600 people, a new underground parish centre and improved disabled access.[12] It also adds a second spire to the church, which is not identical to the original spire because of a Heritage Council stipulation that the new spire not "shamelessly mimic" the existing one.[16]

By March 2007, increasing construction costs and the need for extra repair work meant that the project costs had blown out by $5 million.[13] The costs had further blown out to $32.9 million by March 2009.[6]

The expansion project was overseen by the Dean of the Cathedral, Monsignor Thomas McDonald.[4] Part of the restoration works involved hoisting the entire roof structure temporarily so that existing columns could be replaced and the walls reconfigured.[15] The roof was then attached to a permanent steel structure.[15]

In 2006, after the closure of the cathedral for construction, the remains of Perth's first bishops were found beneath floorboards in the aisle, marked only by a small cross carved in the boards.[13] As part of the restoration works, a permanent crypt for Perth's dead bishops was to be constructed underneath the altar.[13] As part of the restoration project, the remains of Perth's first bishop, John Brady, were exhumed in 2011 from his grave in France and a few months later he was laid to rest in the crypt of St Mary's Cathedral.[14]

The cathedral was eventually closed in August 2006 for the commencement of construction.[13] At this stage, the building was suffering from rising damp, a crumbling bell tower and structural weaknesses.[13]

In mid-1999, after a bequest of $2 million by the estate of Jim and Alice Hassell,[4] the Archdiocese announced that they intended to finally complete the 1920s expansion; however construction was not expected to commence until 2001.[10] However, it took longer than expected to source funds for the expansion, delaying commencement of the project. In the 2005–06 Federal budget, $3 million was set aside for the expansion,[11] and a $2 million grant was received from the State government.[12]

The new portion of the cathedral, near the end of the expansion works in 2009

Third stage: 1999 to present

In 1995 the Heritage Council of Western Australia noted that the original 1865 portion of the structure was suffering from falling damp and cracking in the walls, and the mosaic floors in the sanctuary were also cracked.[2] Further deterioration of the cathedral by the end of the 20th century meant that decisions had to be made in relation to the repair and completion of the original design.[9]

In 1973, the central altar and lectern were added to the sanctuary and the redesigned sanctuary was consecrated on 12 August 1973.[3][8]

In 1938 the cathedral's boys' choir was established, making it the oldest Catholic boys' choir in Australia today.[7]

The expanded, but incomplete, St Mary's Cathedral opened on 4 May 1930.[3][4]

The expansion work was undertaken by builders A T Brine and Sons, and it was built from stone from the same quarry as the General Post Office building.[3] The sanctuary mosaics were made to designs found in the Book of Kells.[3] The stained glass windows were designed and created in the United Kingdom by John Hardman of Birmingham.[3] The marble altar from the original cathedral was relocated to the sanctuary of the expanded cathedral.[2]

The foundation stone was laid on 25 April 1926.[3] Deteriorating economic conditions associated with onset of the Great Depression necessitated the scaling back of the project.[4] The original cathedral, less its sanctuary, was retained as the nave of an expanded cathedral.[4] Exposed metal bands were left protruding from the wall of the new transept, in preparation for completion of the cathedral in future generations.[3]

In 1924, Bishop Clune started an appeal to fund the construction of a larger cathedral.[2] Architect Michael Cavanagh designed the new cathedral in the Academic Gothic style.[2][4] Architect John Cyril Hawes described the proposed design as "bastard Gothic" and proposed instead a large Romanesque cathedral.[5] His plans were rejected, with the clergy instead opting for the Gothic design.[5] Hawes went on to design St Francis Xavier Cathedral in Geraldton.[5]

The apse and transept of the 1930 portion of the cathedral
The expansion of the cathedral underway in 1929

Second stage: 1930 to 1999

Benedictine Oblate Brother Joseph Ascione designed the cathedral in the Norman Gothic style.[2][3] The cathedral's walls were built from clay bricks from a property in Adelaide Terrace.[2] Between 1897 and 1910, alterations were made to the cathedral to emphasise its Gothic character, including the addition of a spire to its bell tower.[2]

Because of labour and fund shortages, construction of the cathedral progressed slowly. Benedictine masons would walk daily between their Monastery in Subiaco and the construction site. In January 1864, construction was suspended because of a lack of money.[2] Eventually further funds were raised and the building completed, for a total cost of £4,000.[2] The cathedral was blessed and opened on 29 January 1865.[3]

On 8 February 1863, Bishop of Perth Rosendo Salvado laid the foundation stone of the cathedral.[3]

Bishop Serra travelled to Rome, and while there received a donation of 1,000 scudi from Francis II of the Two Sicilies.[2] He also secured a donation of marble from the Benedictine Brothers of the Monastery of Saint Paul Outside the Walls, which was used to construct the cathedral's altar.[2] This altar arrived at the colony in 1862.[2]

[2] of the colony to cede the land in Victoria Square to the Roman Catholic Church, which occurred on 13 August 1859.Governor Bishop Serra therefore applied to the [2]

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