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St Francis' Church

Melbourne's oldest Catholic church was built by the colony's first Catholic priest, the Franciscan Patrick Bonaventure Geoghegan (1805-64). Erected between 1841 and 1845, it was designed by Samuel Jackson in a naive but refined Gothic style. The only pre-gold-rush building in the city remaining on its original site, it was the Catholic cathedral of Melbourne from 1848 to 1869. The renowned musical traditions of St Francis' Church stem from the foundation of the choir in 1845. The galleries and organ were added in 1853, as was the ceiling of Queensland cedar. In 1858 a refined Gothic Ladye Chapel, containing Melbourne's first cycle of stained-glass windows, was constructed. At its dedication the choir presented the first liturgy with full orchestra in Victoria. In 1878 an enlarged neo-Palladian sanctuary designed by Reid & Barnes to hold a grand Italian marble altar was added. Alterations in 1890 and 1956 have marred the original design of the church, control of which passed to the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament in 1929.

John H. Byrne