The blessing of the foundation stone of St Mary’s Cathedral in 1868 was honoured at a sesquicentenary celebration on 8 December, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, led by the ninth Archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher OP.
A time capsule was buried with items for a future generation of Sydney Catholics to discover, including copies of the day’s newspapers and 2018-minted coins.
Archbishop Fisher said it “took enormous courage and faith in divine providence” for the mostly poor Catholic community under the leadership of Archbishop Polding to set about building the “monumental cathedral”.
The destruction of the first St Mary’s Cathedral by fire in 1865 was “no doubt a terrible blow” for the colonial Catholic community but Archbishop Polding turned to architect William Wardell to design the grand neo-gothic cathedral that stands today, he said.
The current building was dedicated and opened in 1882 for liturgical use but took almost 100 years to complete with its crowning glory, the 30-metre southern spires, only placed in the year 2000.
“This grand old lady that is our cathedral continues to be adorned anew by each generation, ensuring that in the heart of our city is a place of beauty, prayer and pilgrimage for Catholics and visitors alike.”