History can be so exciting, especially when you are able to enjoy some remarkable slices of historical places and events that made Brisbane and its community what we are today.
You now have the opportunity to get your historical juices flowing and discover a part of Brisbane's significant past by joining one of the free tours of St Stephen's Cathedral, 249 Elizabeth Street, Brisbane.
Inside St Stephen's Cathedral
The tours, available from Monday to Friday, commence at 10:30am following Mass. Each group is led by very knowledgeable and enthusiastic guides who focus on the history, architecture, contemporary sculpture and artworks in the Cathedral and its precinct.
All tours commence from the covered walkway connecting the Cathedral and Chapel.
Sunday and special tours of the Cathedral and Chapel can be arranged by appointment through the Cathedral Office. To make inquiries please call on 3324 3030 for group tours to be organised by a Cathedral guide.
The tours cover all aspects of the Cathedral including narratives on the beautiful French and German stained windows (including the Mayne windows), the marble used in construction and beautification and the Ambo, or pulpit, and its importance within the building. The significance of the unique cruciform and its relevance to Easter will be revealed.
In the historic St Stephen's chapel, which is the oldest church in Queensland, circ.1850, you will be shown the recently erected St Mary MacKillop Shrine. The art work on the four panels enclosing the shrine, which is the work of John Elliot, pays tribute to St Mary's religious life as Mother Mary of the Cross and her work with the sisters in their ministry.
Some recent history included in the tour is a viewing and discussion of the Jubilee Pipe Organ installed in 2000 by the Melbourne firm of Knud Smenge and encased by the architect of the Cathedral's current restoration, Mr Robin Gibson. The moveable console, which allows flexibility for the organ's use during different services, choral and orchestral concerts and recitals, is explained and demonstrated.
Through the tour you will see how the cathedral is not only an important place for its congregation but also for the city of Brisbane as it provides an inviting sanctuary and oasis of green where people can rest awhile.
Take a Break in the Peaceful Grounds of the Cathedral
You will see how changing architectural styles have left their marks as people added, embellished or replaced parts of the cathedral over its history. Bishop Quinn, who laid the foundation stone of the cathedral on the feast of St Stephen, 26 December 1863 commenced the process with the original design. Archbishop Robert Dunne added the top of the gable and the spires to the Elizabeth Street facade in 1884. The inimitable Archbishop James Duhig laid the foundation stone for the new transepts.
During the 1980s Archbishop Francis Rush undertook the complete restoration, renovation and extension of the Cathedral. Most recently, Archbishop John Bathersby authorised the restoration of St Stephen's Chapel in which a diocesan shrine to Saint Mary Mackillop was established.
If you would like to live our history and become more involved in this important historical aspect of Brisbane new volunteer tour guides are always welcome. All necessary training is provided. If you are interested in art and architecture, the religious and local history of Brisbane then you might like to consider joining the group. Contact the cathedral office on 3324 3030 for more information.
There are ample public parking stations in the CBD you can use for your visit or you can make your way to the Cathedral by public transport if you prefer. The Cathedral is a 10 minute walk from Central Railway Station and a 15 minute walk from the Queen Street Bus Station at the Myer Centre.
Come along and see, hear, touch, smell and get the taste for some real Brisbane history. You will be amazed at the beauty, dignified grandeur and fascinating past sitting quietly in our midst.