St Stephen's Cathedral, Brisbane

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Posted 2023-06-03 by Gillian Chingfollow
To see one of Brisbane's grand Cathedrals, why not take a tour of the Cathedral of St Stephens, a Roman Catholic Church and the mother parish of the Archdiocese of Brisbane, a place of worship as well as a centrepiece of Gothic architecture in Brisbane.

There is no doubt that Europe is home to some of the most beautiful and ornate Cathedrals in the world: think Notre Dame in Paris, the Cologne Cathedral in Germany and of course, St Marks in Italy. Many tourists travelling to Europe will recall stepping inside one or more churches on tours or when exploring these cities as key scenic attractions of the cities.

So, without travelling to Europe, I decided to visit Brisbane's own St Stephen's Cathedral and appreciate the beauty of these stately buildings right here at home.

About the Cathedral
The Cathedral of St Stephens is part of a precinct in the Brisbane Central Business District that includes the Cathedral of St Stephen, St Stephen's Chapel, Mercy House and the Francis Rush Centre. It also encompasses St Patrick's Church in Fortitude Valley.

The Cathedral was designed by Architect Benjamin Backhouse in the Gothic Revival style and built between 1863 and 1922, with extensions made in 1989, The actual construction periods were:

1863-1874, St Stephens Cathedral First Section
1884, West Gable completed
1920-1922, Transepts and Sanctuary
1989, Eastern Chapels

The features of gothic cathedrals, which evolved from Romanesque architecture, are a medieval aesthetic characterised by arches, vaulted ceilings, and small stained glass windows. Such is the significance of this building that the St Stephens Cathedral was heritage listed in Queensland in October 1992 as a social and cultural institution.

Special Features

The Stained Glass Windows
There are several stunning glass-stained windows throughout the Cathedral. Of note is the stained glass window known as the "Mayne" window, which is located above the sanctuary on the east wall. The window consists of three lancets that include thirty-two panels. A quatrefoil and two small tracery lights are positioned above each of the three tall, narrow lancets.

Note the individual chairs for worship rather than long shared pews.

The Jubilee Pipe Organ
A cathedral of this size is serviced by an organ ready to echo the sounds of hymns and songs for the choir and congregation. The Cathedral's Jubilee Pipe Organ was completed in 2000 by the Melbourne firm of Knud Smenge. It has 47 speaking stops and three manuals. The case was designed by the Cathedral's restoration architect, Robin Gibson.

The Individual Chairs (not pews)

Prayer candles

Mary McKillop Shrine
The Mary McKillop shrine is installed in the Cathedral and is dedicated to victims and survivors of sexual abuse. It includes an inscription reading " A light remembering all those abused, entrusting them to mother Mary of the cross who knew the pain of the victims and the strength of the survivors. Saint Mary McKillop, pray for them and their loved ones."

Saint Mary MacKillop actually worked in Brisbane after her final profession as a religious and regularly worshipped in this building between Christmas 1869 and Easter 1871.

St Stephens Chapel
If you follow the covered walkway outside the Cathedral, you will find the smaller St Stephens Chapel. While it is without the grandeur and architectural features of its cousin, it is intimate and welcoming. It is built in the Gothic revival style.

Other features of the building include:
-Stations of the Cross
- Mary, Woman of Faith
- The Reconciliation Chapel
- Blessed Sacrament Chapel
- the Crucifix
- The Nave and more

Tour details
While I had walked past the Cathedral on many occasions, this was the first time I stepped inside and wasn't disappointed at its beauty, peacefulness and architectural inspiration. It is certainly a centrepiece of the city. If like me you are interested in visiting and experiencing the Cathedral for yourself, tours are free and available on & #8203 ;Sunday by appointment and on weekdays at 10:30 am (following Mass),
& #8203 ;
All tours meet at the covered way connecting the Cathedral and Chapel. See a little bit of European-inspired architecture right here in Brisbane.

99590 - 2023-06-12 08:33:35


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