St Patrick’s Cathedral Melbourne is the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne in Victoria, Australia, and seat of its archbishop, currentlyDenis Hart.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 Papal Visit.
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-metre (340 ft) length is marginally shorter than that of St Mary’s Cathedral, 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.William Wardell, Melbourne’s foremost ecclesiastical architect was commissioned to prepare plans for a cathedral, but the project was delayed by severe labour shortages during theGold Rush of 1851, which drew almost every able-bodied man in the colony to the goldfields, and the foundation stone was not laid until 1858. An earlier building by stonemason David Mitchell (father of Nellie Melba and later partner of John Monash) was demolished for the cathedral.