St. Francis' Catholic Church
Corner of Elizabeth and Lonsdale Streets, Melbourne 3000.
 
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St Francis' Church
St Francis' Church
Summary:
  • Built in stages between 1841 and 1956.
  • Designed by Samuel Jackson .
  • Listed on the Victorian Heritage Register (no H0013)
Building Description:

The foundation stone for Victoria's first Catholic church, St. Francis', was laid on 4 October 1841, the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi after whom the church is named. The church was commissioned by Fr. Patrick Geoghegan, the first Catholic priest in the Port Phillip District of New South Wales which later became the Colony (and then State) of Victoria in 1851.

St. Francis' became Melbourne's first Catholic cathedral with the arrival of Bishop James Alipius Goold in 1848. Its cathedral status ended when the nave of the partially built St Patrick's Cathedral was opened for worship in the late 1860's.

The church is built to a cruciform floor plan and is relatively simple in its exterior decoration lacking either a bell tower or steeple. Rows of buttresses line the exterior walls which are made of stone. Internally, the ceiling is lined with wooden tiles.

The beautiful 'Ladye Chapel' on the western side of St Francis' Church was constructed in the mid-1850's and blessed on 31 May 1858. A Renaissance-style sanctuary, which extended the church, was built in the late 1870's.

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

In 1955–56, a new front porch was added to the building and ten new confessionals were built as buttresses along the outer wall of the nave. More recently, the interior has been modernised in line with the Second Vatican Council's liturgical reforms. The original altar, organ and many of the original furnishings are long gone but the tabernacle remains and sympathetic replacements have been sourced.
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