This Church is one of the biggest Churches in Geelong. It can be seen from all over the city, and even as far away as North Shore Beach. It is a beautiful building, which has led me to highlight its history and the structure. It is an iconic building which dominates the landscape of Geelong.
Historic St Mary of The Angels Catholic Church, Geelong
St Mary's Church at Dusk
When Geelong was in its infancy, and was just starting to develop, other businesses, churches, colleges were also starting up in Geelong. The town of Geelong was officially proclaimed a city in 1938. Not long after that St Mary's became one of Geelong's first churches.
On the 27th November 1842, a small wooden chapel was built on Yarra Street, Geelong, with donations from the congregation paying for the building.
The parish of Geelong, in 1842, stretched from Geelong to Portland. Priests had to travel on horseback from Geelong to Colac, Bunninyong and Portland.
View of the Side of the Church
After the wooden chapel was built, the arrival of Irish immigrants increased the district's Catholic population. The chapel was too small for the congregation, so they started to raise money for a new church. The foundations for a stone church were laid in 1846, on the present site of St Mary's Church.
Father P.B. Geoghegan laid the foundation stone in 1846, and the building of the church was completed in 1947. Thanks to the gold rush, and the increasing population in Geelong, the number of Catholics in Geelong grew to almost 4000. The congregation would need an even bigger church.
The plans drawn up by Mr Dowden and Mr Ross, Architects, included a magnificent cathedral-like building, 200 feet long, 130 feet wide, and an estimated cost of $40,000 dollars. Their design called for a giant bluestone spire, buttresses and a rose window.
The Church is an absolute icon of Geelong. It can be viewed from all over Geelong. From North Shore beach St Mary's Church stands out on the horizon, dwarfed now by the giant lights over Simond's Stadium, however still a shining beacon on the landscape.
In 1854 the foundation stone of the new St Mary's of the Angels Church was laid. Work on the new church stopped in 1856.
In 1871, seventeen years after work had ceased, the Archdeacon Slattery arrived in Geelong. Work started again on the new church and was completed soon after, with St Mary of the Angels being dedicated in 1872. The spires were still unfinished in 1872. The Church was still impressive and it dominated the local landscape. The Church seated over 1000 people.
The work to complete the church was started in 1931. After 80 years the building of this magnificent Church was finally finished in June 1937.
The Church of St Mary of the Angels can be seen from all directions as visitors approach Geelong. It really is a wonderful building, and a great landmark on the skyline of Geelong.
St Mary's Church of the Angels is officially recognised by the National Trust of Victoria and by the Historical Buildings Council.
A few Facts about St Mary's Church:
The sun was setting behind the Church
The church was originally named St Mary's Church. It is now known as St Mary of the Angels Basilica.
St Mary of the Angels has the tallest bluestone spire in Australia. The spire is 150 feet tall.
St Mary's is the 4th tallest church in Australia (non cathedral).
It is the tallest building in Geelong with a total height of 210 feet from the ground.
You can read about St Mary of the Angels Parish - Derby Day here
. All photographs were taken by the author.