Cathedrals. (Australia)

Those of you who follow Andrew Petcher will have seen his A to Z of Cathedrals which he conclude recently with Z is for Zadar in Croatia.  Today was Father’s Day here in Australia and my daughter took me to Bendigo just to look around at the Art Gallery and the Chinese Museum and secondhand bookshops et al. But as we entered the city we could not help but see the Roman Catholic Sacred Heart Cathedral. It is built on a high site very near the centre of the city.

Sacred Heart Cathedral is one of Australia’s largest churches and the third tallest after St Patrick’s Cathedral and St Paul’s Cathedral in Melbourne. It is exceptionally large for a provincial city cathedral in Australia and its construction was made possible chiefly through the estate of Henry Backhaus (1811-1882), a German from Paderborn and the first Catholic priest on the Bendigo goldfields. Backhaus was very skilled in financial matters and accumulated considerable property – not least through encouraging his gold-mining parishioners to contribute some of their finds to the work of the church. Backhaus left his wealth for the benefit of the church and enabled the cathedral, among other things, to be built.

The architect design was completed in 1887. Work commence soon after and the nave was completed by 1901. Work continued on other areas until 1908 when it ceased due to lack of funds.  Work started again in 1954 and the cathedral was completed in 1977 when the tower and spire was finished.  The twentieth century work was largely executed by sixteen craftsmen, most of whom were Italians brought to Australia expressly for the purpose. The interior and chapels are lined in marble from around the world.  The cost of the first stage was £33,000 and the cost of the 1954-77 building work was $2.6 million all paid for from revenues from the estate of Father Backhaus which were released annually by the trustees.

It was built from sandstone quarried from the Geelong area.

The large pipe organ, built by Bishop & Son of London, was installed late in 1905

The Cathedral is 75 metres long and has a ceiling height of 24 metres. The main spire is 87 metres high.

16 thoughts on “Cathedrals. (Australia)

    1. A cathedral is the home church for the bishop or archbishop of a Catholic diocese. It takes its name from the bishop’s chair, called a cathedra in Latin, which traditionally represents the seat of power and authority of the leader of the diocese.

      A basilica is simply an important church building designated by the pope because it carries special spiritual, historical, and/or architectural significance. Basilica is the highest permanent designation for a church building, and once a church is named a basilica, it cannot lose its basilica status.


      1. I’m not sure Andrew. I think it cathedral can be a basilica but some basilicas cannot be cathedrals. I might have to go and have another look at that


      2. It is all rather confusing I find. Sagrada Familia in Barcelona is designated a minor basilica because the Church says that the city already has a Cathedral and no one in the Catholic Church asked Gaudi to build another one. Maybe God?


  1. Henry and I are currently in Oxford, England, and some of the churches and buildings look very similar to the building style of the church from your blog. Thank you for sharing the photos. Greetings, Henry & Maria


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