St Patrick's Cathedral is the cathedral church of
the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne in Victoria, Australia, and seat of
its archbishop, currently Denis Hart. The building is known internationally as a
leading example of the Gothic Revival style of architecture.
In 1974 Pope Paul VI conferred the title and dignity of minor basilica on it. In
1986 Pope John Paul II visited the cathedral and addressed clergy during his
The cathedral is built on a traditional east-west axis, with the altar at the
eastern end, symbolising belief in the resurrection of Christ. The plan is in
the style of a Latin cross, consisting of a nave with side aisles, transepts
with side aisles, a sanctuary with seven chapels, and sacristies. Although its
103.6 metres (340 ft) length is marginally shorter than that of St Mary's
Cathedral in Sydney, St Patrick's has the distinction of being both the tallest
and, overall, the largest church building in Australia.
In 1848, the Augustinian friar James Goold was appointed the first bishop of
Melbourne and became the fourth bishop in Australia, after Sydney, Hobart and
Adelaide. Negotiations with the colonial government for the grant of five acres
of land for a church in the Eastern Hill area began in 1848. On 1 April 1851,
only 16 years after the foundation of Melbourne, the Colonial Secretary of
Victoria finally granted the site to the Roman Catholic Church.
Goold decided to build his cathedral on the Eastern Hill site. Since the
Catholic community of Melbourne was at the time almost entirely Irish, the
Cathedral was dedicated to St Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland.