Monday, October 5, 2009

St Patrick's, Fortitude Valley

Amidst the present-day commercial hustle and bustle of the Valley sits another heritage-listed Catholic church, St Patrick's. The original St Patrick's was the second Catholic church in Queensland, and was built in 1860 on the corner of Wickham and Duncan Streets. Twenty years later, the increasing Catholic community of Spring Hill, the Valley and New Farm demanded a larger place of worship, so Bishop Quinn purchased a fairly sizeable chunk of land east of Ann St for that purpose. Here he decided to build a 1500-seat church, and he engaged architect Andrea Stombuco to provide suitable plans. The new St Patrick's was built over a couple of years, and consecrated by Quinn in 1882. This is the way it looked around the year 1914.

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #7908)

Although New Farm subsequently was to build its own Catholic church, St Patrick's continued to serve a large community, predominately Irish and Italian immigrants, from the surrounding areas through to the 1950s. As with other Christian places of worship, attendances dropped off after that time, such that the parish of St Patrick's was dissolved around 1990, and the church is now run from the Cathedral of St Stephen in the city, which is only a couple of kilometres away. The cathedral's web site says "St Patrick’s Church is at the centre of a small and devoted parish community." I guess it becomes problematic for the Catholic church (and indeed, all churches) as parishes become smaller and smaller - the grounds themselves would be enormously valuable if they could be sold, but the heritage listing of the church would prevent any major development there.
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

In any case, this is what St Patrick's looked like after mass on a recent Sunday (above). The stone exterior of the church is attractive, and the interior, including the stained-glass windows, is equally fetching. I have to agree with the rest of the words on the Cathedral's web page - "The spirit and calm of the church offers prayerful sanctuary from the business world outside."

Click here for a Google Map.


Next: Interstate travel

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