One of the best ways we’ve found to learn about a city we are visiting is to explore its churches. This is where the history and development of urban life truely comes alive.
In 1838, two years after the founding of Adelaide, the Roman Catholics of the city began organized religious meetings , with the first formal Mass being held in 1840 in a home on East Terrace. As the population began to grow, Adelaide’s Catholic congregation felt the need for their own Cathedral ( with the first plans being drawn up as early as 1845). The foundation stone was laid in 1851. However, the gold rush in the neighboring state of Victoria interrupted the construction, as South Australia went into an economic depression. By 1856, the foundation stone was re-laid. The new Cathedral, to be built in the Gothic Revival style, was designed to be built in stages. With the first stage complete, the Cathedral was dedicated in July of 1858. As the population continued to grow, additional expansion stages were added. The 108 foot tall Bell Tower was begun in 1887, but was not completed until 1996 (109 years later). Like the Cathedral itself, the church’s organ was built in stages; the first in 1869; in 1926, the organ was replaced by a bigger one; and finally in 1954, it was totally rebuilt.
Exploring the beautiful St. Francis Xavier Cathedral gave us an insight into the history of Adelaide that we did not see in the other attractions we’ve visited.
There was much to enjoy in all parts of this Cathedral , including this exquisitely carved statue of St. Francis Xavier in the front vestibule.