Our History

The history of Sts Peter and Paul’s Old Cathedral stems from the earliest days of colonial Australia.

From the first mass celebrated by Fr John Therry in 1833 at the historic Riversdale property in Goulburn, our region has been synonymous
with the growth of the Catholic faith in Australia. Hear the story of the Cathedral’s development, discover the fascinating story
of the Cathedral’s organ, t
ake a virtual tour of the exquisite stained-glass windows and explore the work
that’s gone on below the sanctuary. 

Our Timeline

1788

The First Fleet arrived in Australia and Sydney is founded as a British convict settlement. Catholics were among the convicts and soldiers.

1820

The first land grants were made to free settlers in the Goulburn area.

1841

The first stone was laid in Verner Street for a Catholic Church.

1847

The Catholic church was completed and extended over the next 20 years. The only brick church south of Sydney at the time.

1864

The Goulburn diocese was created.

1867

Bishop Lanigan was consecrated in the church, the first Australian Bishop to be consecrated in his own church.

1871

Construction of the Cathedral Nave was commenced, around the original church.

1872

The Nave was completed, opened and blessed by Archbishop Polding.

1882

The Cathedral transepts, sanctuary, tower and sacristy were commenced.

1887

The foundation stone of the Cathedral sanctuary was laid by Cardinal Moran on May 15th.

1889

The Cathedral was dedicated by Cardinal Moran on April 25th.

1890

The Cathedral construction was completed, opened and blessed by Cardinal Moran on June 29th.

1927

Extensive renovations commenced and alterations made to the Cathedral interior. Renovations were completed in 1930.

1948

Bishop Macguire appointed the first Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn.

1952

Redecoration of Cathedral interior.

1958

Further redecoration carried out.

1969

Official relocation of Diocesan See to Canberra to form the Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn.

1977

Repair works to Sanctuary, roof and gutters.

1980

Repairs to organ completed.

1987

Centenary Celebrations of the Old Cathedral.

1990

Commencement of external conservation and restoration works.

2006

Appeal launched by Prime Minister Howard with $1.5m grant.

2006

Cathedral and precinct added to the NSW State Heritage Register.

2007

Work began to excavate under the sanctuary and stabilise the foundations.

2010

Stabilisation of western wall, shingle belltower, restoration of original bells completed.

2011

Mosaic to honour Caroline Chisholm was unveiled by HE Ms Quentin Bryce, Governor General.

2014

Copper spire installed on February 18th, to complete the original 1871 vision of architect Strombucco.

2016

Conservation and replacement of weathered sandstone components commenced: repair and preservation of stained glass windows, repair and restoration of crosses and finials completed.

2020

New appeal launched to complete the restoration.

A project of the National Trust of Australia (NSW) and the Sts Peter and Paul’s Old Cathedral Restoration Appeal.

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Saints Peter and Paul’s Old Cathedral