More than half of Australians are Christians, and for the Catholic tradition, the 5th of March 2014, called Ash Wednesday, marked this year's start of the Season of Lent. Traditionally and for the believer, Lent is a period of preparation through prayer, penance, repentance of sins, almsgiving, atonement and self-denial. This draws parallel with what Ramadan is for the Islamic people.
The climax of Lent is the commemoration of the death of Christ (Good Friday) and His subsequent resurrection (Easter Sunday). In Australia, we know this as Easter, and for many, Christian or not, believer or otherwise, this means a long weekend. Yes, from Friday, 18 April 2014 to Monday, 21 April 2014, each of us can relax and enjoy a long weekend, thanks to this Christian tradition.
You might wonder what this has got to do with St. Mary's Cathedral.
St. Mary's Cathedral is a showcase of the best of English-style Gothic church architecture.
For Christians, Lent is also a season for pilgrimage. A pilgrimage does not have to be a visit to Jerusalem, regarded by Christians (and even Muslims) to be a place of great religious significance. It is a visit to any place of religious importance, such as St. Mary's Cathedral, the seat of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Sydney.
For the non-believer, this season is a good time to visit St. Mary's Cathedral, which is a building of historic significance and an Australian icon in Sydney. The architecture of the church is quite amazing, and while it is not the oldest of its kind in Australia, it is reputed to be the longest of its kind in this part of the world. St. Mary's Cathedral represents the spiritual origins of the Catholic Church in Australia and is regarded as one of the finest examples of the English Gothic churches in the world. Dedicated to Mary Help of Christians, the cathedral was constructed from Sydney sandstone and was finally completed 100 years after the death of its architect, William Wardell.
St. Mary's Cathedral viewed from the St. Mary's Road entrance.
St. Mary's Cathedral holds the title and dignity of a minor basilica, an honour which under Canon Law can be used only under an apostolic grant. Pope Pius XI bestowed this honour upon St. Mary's Cathedral on 4 August 1932, 64 years after Archbishop John Polding, the first archbishop of the Roman Catholic Church in Australia, laid the foundation stone for the present cathedral.
The architecture of St. Mary's Cathedral as a backdrop for timeless photos.
St. Mary's Cathedral is located at St. Mary's Road, Sydney, just across College Street from Hyde Park. Its central location makes it an ideal place to visit for tourists and locals alike. The Domain parking is accessible via St. Mary's Road, while public transportation is within walking distance. St. James' subway train station is just under Hyde Park, while the train station at Martin Place is a short but interesting walk through Macquarie Street where interesting side trips include Hyde Park Barracks, the Mint, and Sydney Hospital.
The boardwalk from the cathedral grounds towards William Street.
On weekdays, tours of the cathedral and its crypt are scheduled at 10:00am, 10:30am and 01:45pm. Call the cathedral office to book at (02) 9220 0400, or just pop in and join the free tour after the 10:30am Sunday Mass. On the first Sunday of each month, from 9:30am, there is a tour of the cathedral bell towers. Enquiries and bookings can be made by calling the cathedral office or sending an email to email@example.com.