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Visitors Guide

Download a copy of the Self Guided Tour Booklet

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Blessed Sacrament Chapel.png
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Spread over 1.25ha, the Cathedral Precinct was originally identified as a future site to   provide a church for the growing Bunbury parish in the early 1900’s


The foundation stone of St Patrick’s was laid in 1919.  Its doors were opened to the local community just two years later.  Some of the older parishioners still recall how local limestone rocks were carried up from the beach on bullock trains, and how, as children, they carried bricks, two at a time, for the exterior works.  Others speak of stories they heard from their parents and grandparents about their part in building the Cathedral. Other Bunbury residents and people from areas in the South West recall watching the Cathedral being built.


Originally St Patrick’s was built as a parish church.  However, in 1954 it was proclaimed a cathedral by Pope Pius XII when he established the Catholic Diocese of Bunbury. 


On 16 May 2005, a tornado tore through Bunbury, devastating the city and shifting the Cathedral on its foundations resulting in its demolition.


A New Beginning

The New St Patrick’s Cathedral was built over a 5 year period, and was opened on 17th March 2011 by Bishop Gerard Holohan, the fourth Bishop of Bunbury.


The Cloister

As you enter the Cathedral, you are in what is called the Cloister.  In a monastery, the Cloister is the covered, usually arched passage along or around a court.


The cloister contains four leadlight windows that were salvaged from the original cathedral prior to its demolition. There are eleven of these windows in total, displayed throughout the Cathedral precinct.


On the wall on the other side of the glass doors that lead into the Parish Hall is the cross that was on the spire of the old cathedral.


The Narthex

As you leave the cloister you will pass through the “Quinn Doors”, into what is known as the Narthex.  These doors were also salvaged from the original cathedral.  They were commissioned by Bishop Quinn to celebrate the Jubilee of the Bunbury Diocese, and are made from solid copper.  Each door weighs over 100kgs.


The narthex is the connection between the Church and the outside world. Traditionally the narthex was a part of the church building, but was not considered part of the church proper. It was either an indoor area separated from the nave by a screen or rail, or an external structure such as a porch. The purpose of the narthex was to allow those not eligible for admittance into the general congregation (particularly catechumens and penitents) to hear and partake in the service. Inside the Narthex, are the foundation/dedication stones. The first stone is the foundation stone that was laid for St Patrick’s Church.  Written in Latin it translates to:

“This stone in honour of St Patrick was laid by the

Most Revered P. Verling V.G

On the 14th day of November 1920

And the Church dedicated by the

Most Revered P. J Clune CSSR Archbishop of Perth

On the 27th day of November 1921.


The Venerable Archdeacon Smyth V.F was Parish Priest. “       


The second stone is the rededication stone for when St Patrick’s Church became a cathedral in 1954, following the establishment of the Bunbury Diocese.  Prior to this, Bunbury was a parish in the Archdiocese of Perth.


The third stone is the dedication stone of the current cathedral.



Statues of Mary, Jesus and the Saints are found in Cathedrals and churches to inspire us to lead our Christian life as fully as possible. The statue of St Patrick used to stand in the entrance of the old cathedral.  It was salvaged and restored, as was the statue of the Sacred Heart.


The bronze bust of St Mary of the Cross (Mary MacKillop) was made using the same cast that made the bust given to Pope Benedict XVI by the Sisters of St Joseph when he visited Australia for World Youth Day in 2008.


The Gallery

Upstairs is the Gallery which holds the organ, a Trillium 927 model three tier keyboard  organ, made by Rodgers Instruments in the USA. The pews in the gallery were salvaged from the original cathedral and were restored by year ten students from Bunbury Catholic College in 2010.


The Baptistery

As you pass through the glass doors, you enter the Baptistery.  In the middle of the Baptistery is the large baptismal font.  The font is located at the entry to the nave to symbolise the journey through the waters of baptism to the Altar.


Inside the font sits the Paschal Candle.  This candle is a large candle lit during the ceremony of the fire at the Easter Vigil.  It is lit at every mass during the Easter season, and is also used at baptisms and funerals. This candle symbolises Christ as the light of the world, and his presence in the midst of his people.


The floor tiles in the Baptistery have been laid in a cruciform pattern.


At either side of the Baptistery are the statues of St Anthony, the patron saint of the Italian community, and St Lorenzo, the patron saint of the Filipino community.

The Baptistery also houses the sacred Oils used in the various sacraments. The oil of Chrism, the oil of Catechumens and the oil for the Sick.


There are two Confessionals, or Reconciliation rooms on either side of the Baptistery. They are situated between the Baptistery and the  Altar to symbolise that once we have been Baptised, we must reconcile with Jesus in order to receive him in Communion at His   altar.


 The Nave

The Nave is the part of the cathedral where the congregation gathers for worship.  The term Nave is derived from the Latin word navis  meaning “ship” because of its resemblance to the upside down shape of a ship. It has also been suggested that the name may have been chosen to designate the main body of the building because the ship is an ancient symbol of the church.


The pews are all situated so that everyone’s attention is focused on the Sanctuary. They were built by Glen Holst of Bridgetown who also built the pews for St Mary’s Cathedral in Perth.


The Sanctuary

The Sanctuary is the front part of the church where the Mass is conducted.  It is raised higher than the Nave to emphasise the importance of what happens there.  The Altar and the Ambo are always situated on the Sanctuary.


The Altar and Ambo were both donated by the Archdiocese of Perth and were originally housed in St Mary’s Cathedral.  They match the Baptismal font which was also donated from St Mary’s Cathedral in Perth.  The Altar is centrally located on the sanctuary to make sure it is the centre of attention.  The Ambo, is sometimes called the lectern, and is the place from where the Word of God is read.


The Altar is focal point of the Cathedral upon which the sacrifice of the Mass is offered. Since the times of the catacombs Mass has been celebrated above the relics of saints and martyrs. Relics in the altar are from St Ireneaus, St Thomas a Kempis, St Monica (Mother of St Augustine) and St Mary Mc Killop. The altar is the first altar in the world to hold the relics of St Mary Mc Killop.


The Cathedra

The Bishop’s chair, or Cathedra, is also situated on the sanctuary.  It is a permanent fixture, but another chair is made available for priests or other ministers who celebrate in the cathedral. This Cathedra was salvaged from the old cathedral and restored.  Above the Cathedra is the Bishop’s crest.  Each Bishop’s crest is unique and has several distinct parts.


A Bishop’s Coat-of-Arms traditionally consists of two halves. The left half is the crest of the Diocese, the right, of the Bishop himself.


The Resurrection Tapestry

Above the Cathedra, is the Resurrection Tapestry. Based on a painting by Australian artist, Robert Juniper, the tapestry was hand woven in Nepal.  The image of Jesus is woven from gold silk, and the tapestry weighs approximately 80kg.  The Tapestry depicts Jesus rising from the tomb, which can be seen in the bottom right hand corner.


The Resurrection Tapestry is a powerful reminder for us of Christ’s victory over death.


Blessed Sacrament Chapel

On the right side of the sanctuary is the Blessed Sacrament   Chapel which houses the Tabernacle.  The Tabernacle houses the consecrated hosts which are not needed during the Mass.  The Sanctuary Lamp is the red light that signifies the presence of God in the Tabernacle that contains the Eucharist. The gold tabernacle and Sanctuary Lamp were salvaged from the old cathedral and have been restored.


The icon that hangs above the Tabernacle is titled “Supper at   Emmaus” and shows Jesus with St Luke and St Cleopas.  It was painted by Marice Sariola of Dunsborough. In the floor at the front of the altar, is the opening that is used to lower coffins into the crypt below the cathedral.  The Crypt has 16 vaults in it in which the bodies of Bishops from the Bunbury Diocese will be laid to rest. Bishop Quinn is currently the only Bishop interred here, as of August 2011.


Our Lady’s Chapel

To the left of the Sanctuary, is Our Lady Chapel.  The icon of the Madonna in this chapel was designed and painted especially for the cathedral by Marice Sariola of Dunsborough. The statue of Our Lady Help of Christians originates from St Thomas’ church and was restored by Lesley Scholay, one of the local parishioners.


The Sacristy

Alongside Our Lady’s Chapel is the Sacristy. In here are kept all the sacred vessels and linen used during the mass.  The room is used to prepare the Cathedral for mass.


The Crucifix

The crucifix was salvaged from the original cathedral and restored by the Art Department of Bunbury Catholic College in 2010.  It hangs on the outer wall of the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. Some people have questioned why the crucifix is not on the sanctuary in the place where the tapestry is positioned. The crucifix does not necessarily have to be on the sanctuary, as long as the processional crucifix is present during Mass.


The Bell Tower

Above the Our Lady’s Chapel is the bell ringing platform, and above that is the bell tower.  The single bell that can be seen through the window is from the old cathedral. This bell was cast in Dublin in 1885, and it sits on what was the baptismal font from the old cathedral. Eight new bells will be installed that will be rung either by hand or electronically inside the bell tower. These new bells were cast in Holland and their fittings made in the UK.


The Windows

The 14 large windows along the North and South walls of the Cathedral depict scenes from the bible and were painted by Australian artist, Robert Juniper.  The original paintings were photographed with a digital camera, enlarged and laminated between two sheets of glass.  The process is called ‘digiglass’, and is named after the Melbourne company who invented it.


Although biblical, the window images have an Australian setting. Australian plants and animals appear in some of the images.


The 7 Northern windows are scenes from the old testament of the Bible, and the 7 Southern windows depict images from the new testament. The windows, starting in the North Western corner of the Cathedral, depict the following:

1. Creation of the world – God saw all he had made – and indeed it was good.   Genesis 1:31

2. The Fall – the promise of salvation – The foreshadowing of the Gospel – I shall put enmity between her offspring and yours.  Genesis 3:15

3. The Covenant with humanity through Noah – The bow is in the clouds– I shall see it – and call to mind the covenant between God and every living creature on earth.   Genesis 9:16

4. The Covenant with Abraham – Look at the sky and count the stars if you can – Just so will your descendants be. Genesis 9:16

5. Covenant with Israel – We shall do everything that God has said: we shall obey. This is the blood of the covenant which God has made with you, entailing these stipulations.   Exodus 24:7-8

6. Isaiah challenges the unfaithful Ahaz – The Lord will give you a sign... the virgin is with child and will give birth to a son whom she will call Immanuel (God is with us). Isaiah 7:147.

7. The call of the virgin Mary – Rejoice, you have won favour – you are to conceive and bear a son and you must name him Jesus. Luke 1:31-32

8. Visit of the wise men – The sight of the star filled them with delights – they saw the child and did him homage they offered gold, frankincense and myrrh. Luke 2:11

9. Baptism of Jesus – He saw he heavens torn apart and the spirit, like a dove, descending on him. A voice from heaven said: You are my Beloved. Mark 1:11

10. Jesus proclaims the kingdom of heaven – Jesus proclaimed the gospel from God: the kingdom of heaven is close at hand – Repent and believe the Gospel. Mark 1:15

11. Jesus institutes the new covenant – This is my body, which will be given up for you. This is the cup of my blood the blood of the new and everlasting covenant.  Luke 22:19-20

12. Jesus dies on the cross – No one can have greater love than to lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13

13. The empty tomb – They found the stone had been rolled away The angel said: “Why look among the dead for someone who is alive. Luke 24:5

14. Apostles filled with the spirit – Suddenly there came a sound of violent wind which filled the entire house there appeared to them


The two small windows above the gallery and the sanctuary were also made from paintings by Robert Juniper.  One is a painting of St Patrick, the other depicts two dancing brolga’s and symbolises Trust in God– “Think of the birds in the air...Think of the lilies in the field....How much more will God look after you.”  Luke 12: 22-32


Stations of the Cross

The stations of the cross depict the journey of Jesus to his death on the cross.  Having them on display in the cathedral helps the faithful make a spiritual pilgrimage of prayer through meditating upon the chief scenes of Christ’s suffering.


The Stations of the Cross were taken from St Mary’s Church in South Bunbury when it was closed, and are displayed on the walls on either side of the Baptistery.


The Spire

The glass spire that sits on top of the Cathedral was inspired by cathedrals found throughout Europe. On special occasions such as Christmas and Easter, the spire is illuminated at night in the liturgical colour of the time.  Every night, the cruciform openings on the sides of the bell tower light up at dusk to remind people of the symbol of Christ’s presence among them.


The Sound & Lighting System

 The sound and lighting systems are state of the art. The sound system was installed by Vizcom Technologies in Perth. It is a digital system, which can be adjusted and music CD’s can be operated remotely by means of an iPad.

The lighting system is also electronically controlled. There are pre-set light settings e.g. Day Time Mass, Night Time Mass, which simplify its use and ensure optimal lighting for the time of the day. Light settings can also be adjusted remotely by means of the iPad.     

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