St. Stephen's Chapel is 160 years old

St Stephen's Chapel, also known as the Pugin Chapel, celebrates its 160th anniversary this year.

Work commenced on the small stone church in 1848 using the design of Gothic revival architect, A.W.N. Pugin from London, who was visiting Australia on a health trip.  This new church replaced an earlier chapel-shanty which had existed from around 1843.  Father James Hanley celebrated the first mass in the church on 12 May 1850 when there were only around sixty Catholic families in the vicinity.

Brisbane became a diocese in 1859 with the appointment of Bishop James Quinn, and as a consequence, the small church was elevated to the status of a cathedral.  When a new cathedral was eventually built and opened in 1874 the church became a school room.  In the period since it has been used for school, church offices and storage, as well as being several times threatened with demolition.

The small Pugin designed church recently underwent substantial renovation and refurbishment.  It now provides St Stephen's Cathedral with a small worship space, with the focus being the diocesan shrine of Mary MacKillop.

The restored St Stephen's chapel was dedicated by Archbishop John Bathersby on 5 February 1999.

  Panorama of Brisbane, 1862, with St Stephen's church in centre.  Image No: 111582

  Panorama of Brisbane, 1862, with St Stephen's church in centre.  Image No: 111582

 St Stephen's Cathedral and "old" St Stephen's Church, ca. 1910.  Negative No: 187172

 St Stephen's Cathedral and "old" St Stephen's Church, ca. 1910.  Negative No: 187172

 Funeral of Archbishop Robert Dunne, outside St Stephen's Cathedral, 1917.  Image No: 68893

 Funeral of Archbishop Robert Dunne, outside St Stephen's Cathedral, 1917.  Image No: 68893

 St Stephen's Church is a state of disrepair, 1971.  Image No: 111589

 St Stephen's Church is a state of disrepair, 1971.  Image No: 111589

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Por estes dias reverenciamos Santo Estevão. Meditei de novo a história do apedrejamento do primeiro mártir autorizada por Saulo. Forte demais, Estevão...Saulo...Paulo. A perspectiva da eternidade e do transcendente nos liberta do tempo presente que perigosamente pode nos cadenciar em um horizonte sem futuro. Esta história assim revestida transmuta-se e nos projeta ao magnífico e extraordinário sentido último da existência de desfecho explosivamente glorioso de alegrias sem fim. Por isso eu aqui colocado por Deus em terras além Pacífico, América do Sul, Brasil, lembro desta Catedral na rua Elisabete em Brisbane, uma cidade de rosto voltado para meu querido vizinho Chile, pátria de Santa Teresa de Los Andes. Estas pequenas coisas nos tornam iguais, embora sejamos distantes e diferentes. Aqui do Brasil, peço nas vossas orações, que lembrem, ainda que fugazmente, do meu país...:)