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Historical Churches in Sydney CBD

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by Mila Wood (subscribe)
I work in the Finance department of a media company, and someone who dabbles in writing of any genre.
Published August 27th 2013
Visit and Discover the History Behind these Holy Places
Historical Churches in Sydney CBD

Australia is still a very young country, yet this nation has vast history of culture, and beliefs. We pride ourselves for being known as a fair country, and a society that embrace and willing to help those nations who are in need.

Multiculturalism had been instilled to us and we whole heartedly embrace and adapt changes including religion, hence for the last 200 years we had witnessed different kind of congregation that had settled into this country.

A recent visit to the Church had sparked my interest and prompted my curiosity to explore the Churches in the city of Sydney; learn, and absorb its history and share my experiences to my fellow readers.

Here it is, 4 historical Churches in the heart of the CBD of Sydney.

St Philip's Church

St Philip's Church is known to be the oldest Parish Church in Australia convened in 1788. It is located between York Street, Jamison and Clarence St, in the area known as Church Hill.

Using the convict labour, the sandstone Church, was built in June 1793, and later burnt to the ground by the convicts in 1798. It was then replaced by the current Gothic-inspired perpendicular Church which was erected from 1848 to 1856. It was allegedly made from poor materials and had gained a reputation as "the ugliest church in Christendom". This second Church had a 150-feet high, round clock tower.

William Cowper, his son William Cowper (the first Australian-born preacher), T. C. Hammond, Sydney James Kirkby and former Archbishop of Sydney Donald Robinson are one of the Prominent Ministers in the life of this Church.

Justin Moffatt is the current Rector, who was previously at Christ Church, New York City.

The Church is listed on the Register of the National Estate and is a part of the Diocese of Sydney Australia.

St Patrick's Catholic Church
Built in the early 1840's, St Patrick Catholic Church is considered to be the oldest Catholic Church. The Church of St Patrick's, near Wynyard Station and St Brigid's at 14 Kent St, Millers Point - The Rocks are included in the Church Hill Parish.

According to St Patrick's history, an Irish man in the name of William Davis was transported to Australia for his part in an anti-British uprising in Ireland on the year 1798. In the early years of the colony, there was no resident priest in Sydney so upon obtaining land at the Rocks in 1809, his home became the Centre of Catholic prayers. Having prospered through the years with his interest in grazing and licensed premises, he donated the land on which St Patrick was built and also gifted a cheque for 1000, which is a large amount of money on those days. A Sydney draughtsman by the name of William Fernyhough drew the plan, but unfortunately did not fit the site. so Architect John Frederick Hilly was employed to re-design the Church. even then, the porch has extended beyond the the street building line, hence a special act had to be passed through the NSW Legislative Council in 1840 to legitimise the encroachment.

It was officially open on the 18th of March 1844. A date chosen by the organisers in preference to the feast of St Patrick on March 17, avoiding inebriated revellers and religious bigotry that plagued the Church at that time.

St Mary's Cathedral

St Mary's Cathedral is the Cathedral Church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney and the seat of the Archbishop of Sydney, currently Cardinal George Pell. The Church is one of the city's famous structures and the most widely known Church among tourists and locals alike.

It is located on College Street in the heart of the City of Sydney, having the greatest length of any church in Australia; its imposing structure and twin spires making it a landmark in every direction.

In 1932, the Pope Pius XI, bestowed St Mary's Cathedral the title of Basilica Minor. A term which means regal or kingly, granted by the Pope to a church that has unusual historical significance, or is especially sacred because of the presence of relics.

The Church is laden with treasures and devotional objects. Painted in oils by L. Chovet of Paris and selected for St Mary's by Cardinal Moran in 1885 is the Stations of the Cross. There is a marble replica of Michelangelo's Pieta, the original of which is in St. Peter's Basilica, Rome. This sculpture was originally brought to Australia for display in David Jones Ltd. department store but was later donated to the cathedral.

Touched in the evening by the setting of the sun, is the Grave of the Unknown Soldier, a realistic depiction of a dead soldier sculpted by G.W.Lambert.

St Mary's Cathedral was visited by Pope Benedict XVI and became the focus of World Youth Day in 2008.

During the Holiday Season, the Church is lit up with colourful beam of lights making it one of the most anticipated and photographed buildings; viewing from Hyde Park, the Church is widely visible on its left side.

Structurally designed as a Gothic Revival and built from sandstone, its current structure was rebuilt in 1882 by John Young, who is also known for building "The Abbey" in Annandale, NSW.

St Andrew's Cathedral
St Andrew's Cathedral is one of the city's finest examples of Gothic Revival architecture. It was constructed from 1837 to 1868 by Edmund Blacket, making it the oldest cathedral in Australia.
It is also the Cathedral Church of the Anglican Diocese of Sydney in the Anglican Church of Australia. The Most Reverend Peter Jensen held the coveted seat of the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney and Metropolitan of New South Wales from 2001 until his retirement in July 2013. While his brother, the Very Reverend Phillip Jensen, has been the Dean of Sydney since 2003.

Located along the busy streets of George and Bathurst, and alongside the more prominent Sydney Town Hall, the Cathedral holds services every day, choral services on Sundays and several times a week during school term, Christmas and Easter. There is also a Healing Service, Bible studies and prayer meetings. The pipe organs which had been recently restored and are regularly use for recitals and concerts. St Andrew's has traditional choir of men and boys, as well as a girl's choir, adult singers, and a company of bell ringers. St Andrew's has been listed in the National Trust of Australia.

Joan Kerr described St Andrew's as "....a perfect example of the colonial desire to reproduce England in Australia in the mid nineteenth century".

Amidst the towering buildings that virtually reach the sky, we are still able to preserve these historic churches, the belief towards higher being, thus making us mankind, sustain, nurture, and love our fellow men and women.

These Churches are just a few blocks away from each other. So why don't you explore and learn the fascinating insight of these Holy Architecture.

If your are catching a train, you can either get off from Wynyard Station then head towards Town Hall, or vice versa.
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