St. Stephen's Chapel is 160 years old
By JOL Admin | 19 March 2010
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
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
St Stephen's Church is a state of disrepair, 1971. Image No: 111589
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