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Cathedral Tour Notes

Sacred Heart Cathedral, Bendigo: Tour Guide and Information Notes

Cathedral Opening Hours for Visitors

Monday Closed
Tuesday Closed
Wednesday 10 am to 4 pm
Thursday 10 am to 4 pm
Friday 10 am to 4 pm
Saturday 10 am to 4 pm
Sunday 12 pm to 1.30 pm

Key Dates

  • 1852 Fr Henry Backhaus appointed first priest on Victorian Goldfields.
  • 1855 Dr Backhaus purchased land on which Cathedral stands.
  • 1874 Diocese of Sandhurst established.
  • 1896 Excavations for foundations commenced.
  • 1897 June 25, Foundation stone laid by Bishop Reville, Bishop Crane presiding (blind)
  • 1901 Sept. 28, Nave blessed by Bishop Reville.
  • 1901 Sept. 29, Formal opening by Cardinal Moran, Sydney.
  • 1906 Organ installed.
  • 1908 Lantern Towers completed.
  • 1934 Front steps and granite fence completed.
  • 1954 Work commences on completion of building.
  • 1955 Commemorative stone placed by Cardinal Gilroy, Sydney.
  • 1972 Nave closed to lay new floor.
  • 1973 Interior completed. Opened by Bishop Stewart.
  • 1973 Tower and spire commenced.
  • 1977 Tower and spire completed.
  • 1977 May 14, Cathedral consecrated by Archbishop Cahill.
  • 1977 May 15, Cathedral formally opened by Cardinal Freeman, Sydney,
  • 2001 Sept. 16, Bells blessed by Cardinal Degenhardt, Archbishop of Paderborn
  • 2001 September 30, Bells installed
  • 2001 Sept. 30, Mass celebrated by Cardinal Clancy, Sydney, to mark centenary of the Nave.
  • 2004 January14, Bishop Noel Daly died.
  • 2010 December 28, Bishop Joseph Grech died.
  • 2012 March 1, Bishop Leslie Tomlinson installed as 7th Bishop of Sandhurst
  • 2013 Feb. 17, Blessing of reliquary of St Mary of the Cross Mackillop.
  • 2014 April 5, Re-Blessing of the headstones of the first 3 Bishops of Sandhurst after headstones relocated from Bendigo Cemetery to the area outside the north transept doors.
  • 2014 Oct. 17, Blessing of St Mary of the Cross Mackillop statue created by Jenny Steiner by Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Apostolic Nuncio to Australia.
  • 2014 Dec. 21, Blessing of the icon of St Marcellin Champagnat by Bishop Leslie Tomlinson.
  • 2018 Gardens landscaped by Paul Bangay Garden Designs, Sydney.
  • 2019 Oct.2019, Consecration of Bishop Shane Anthony Mackinlay, 8th Bishop of Sandhurst.


Reed Smart & Tappin were the original architects. When work begun again in 1953 they were known as Bates Smart & McCutcheon
William Britten Tappin, 1854-1905, was the architect for the cathedral. He was born in Ballarat and died in Melbourne. He was describes as our foremost ecclesiastical architect when he died.

English Gothic

The Sacred Heart Cathedral is, architecturally, English Gothic. The marvel of gothic architecture is that it provided great height and lots of light, without heavy, thick walls. Flying buttresses were devised to overcome the problem of holding up such high walls without their falling outward due to the weight of the roof. These are, in fact, the arches in the side aisles. But in classical European Gothic the buttresses are outside the walls of the building (as in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris), in English Gothic the buttresses are roofed in, thus giving a much wider building inside.

Traditionally Christian churches, if possible, are built on an East-West orientation. The rising sun is seen as a symbol or reminder of the Risen Christ. Just as the rising sun overcomes the darkness of night, so the risen Christ overcomes the darkness of sin and death. Therefore the main doors of such buildings are often referred to as the Great West Door.

The land was part of the Backhaus Estate left by the first priest on the Victorian Gold Fields. A lease on the Wattle Street site was taken out in 1886 for 500 years at the yearly rental of one shilling (ten cents). The site comprises land bordered by McKenzie, Wattle and Short Streets, three short blocks from Bendigo's Alexandra Fountain.

Work was begun on the building of a suitable cathedral for the dioceses in 1896. This enabled the church to give out-of-work miners employment. It really was an act of great courage to begin such major work during the depression of the 1890’s.
Money from the Backhaus Estate was not available at this time so the diocese took out a loan for £30,000 from George Lansell (known as the Quartz King) at six percent compound interest. When the money has been exhausted the nave was complete and the east end walled up awaiting completion at a later date. In 1902, when the money in the Backhaus Estate matured, the debt was discharged.

The foundations consist of granite from Harcourt, near Bendigo. The walls are of sandstone, Barrabool and Ceres from the Geelong region. Dressings and carvings are of limestone from Waurn Ponds in the Nave and from Mt.Gambier in the new sanctuary. The floor is Calacutta Vagli Extra marble from Italy. The walls of the sanctuary are Sicilian Pearl marble, with Verdi Tinos surrounding the main altar which is of Dromana granite.

The Blessed Sacrament altar is of Swedish rose-red granite while the altar in the Lady Chapel is white Carrara marble. The altar of St. Patrick’s chapel is Harcourt granite while that of St. Augustine is of Brecia Aurora marble from the altars in the former Corpus Christi Seminary, Mt. Waverley (now the Police Academy). The inset strips across the opening of the four side chapels are of Lipos Brilliant marble. The altar in the Chapel of St. Joseph, the burial chapel, is of black granite from South Australia. The Baptismal Font features a variety of inlaid marbles.

The new white marble floor of Calacutta Vagli Extra marble was laid in 1973. This necessitated the closure of the cathedral. A small bulldozer was used. It entered the building through the double doors on the McKenzie Street side of the nave with only an inch to spare after the doors had been removed. This enabled the old asphalt and tile floor of the nave to be removed. There were many cracks in the old concrete floor so a new suspended concrete floor was laid.

The ceiling in the nave is a fine angel hammer beam roof. It was intended to spread over the transepts and the sanctuary. This did not happen, no doubt on the grounds of the expense of hand carving the angels. Peter Staughton, a Melbourne architect wrote in 1977 Tappin’s roof to the nave is undoubtedly one of the finest of its kind in Australia. Oregon and kauri is used in the nave ceiling and most of the others with mouldings of yellow and sugar pine and panels of King William pine.

The wood in the ceilings of the octagonal chapels had to be put into heated water tanks so it could be bent to the correct shape. All the wood work in the new section of the building was carried out by Frank and Paul Coppock local Bendigo craftsmen. The wood used in the pews is Australian blackwood and were made in Bendigo before the opening in 1901.

The bishop’s chair or cathedra is the red covered chair under the canopy, at the far [east] end of the Sanctuary, under the wooden-carved canopy. Symbolically, it is the seat which the Bishop shepherds and governs the Diocese. A most significant moment of a new bishop taking possession of the diocese is his being seated on the cathedra which gets its name from Cathedral, mother-church of the Diocese. The cathedra in this cathedral is very ornate. It was hand carved from Austrian oak by the Tyrolese wood-carver Ferdinand Stuflesser of St Ulrich, Groden early in the 20th century and installed in 1914. It features three carved and gilded statues: St Patrick and St Augustine occupy niches either side of the bishop’s coat of arms with one of the Sacred Heart within the canopy above. Each bishop has the right to his own coat of arms and motto. Our present bishop, Bishop Leslie Tomlinson DD has chosen In Christ’s Name as his motto.

The formal laying of the foundation stone occurred on Friday, June 25, 1897 --- the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus by Bishop Reville, Bishop Crane being too infirm to be present. A stone with 13 roman numerals and the Alpha and Omega is to the right hand side of the great west doors (as you face them). The stone has the X symbol for Christ with AD surrounding it and MDCCCLXXXXVII below.

On September 28, 1901 Bishop Reville blessed the new building (the nave of the present building) and on Sunday September 29, 1901 His Eminence Patrick Francis Cardinal Moran formally opened the building. (Moran was Australia’s most senior bishop and Archbishop of Sydney). Bishop Crane was present but unable to see his dream come to fruition due to unsuccessful eye surgery in 1882 for cataracts.

In 1953 Bishop Bernard Stewart decided to finish the cathedral. Workers dug for days and finally unearthed the foundations which has been layed in the 1890’s. His Eminence Norman Cardinal Gilroy, Archbishop of Sydney, layed a commemorative stone on October 16, 1955. The translation reads:
His Eminence the Most Reverend Norman Thomas Cardinal Gilroy, Archbishop of Sydney, at the invitation of the Most Reverend Bernard Stewart, Fourth Bishop of Sandhurst, blessed and duly placed in position the foundation-stone of the works that will lead to completion of this Cathedral Church, placed under the protection of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. October 16th, 1955.

The interior was completed by October 1973 and formally opened by Bishop Stewart. The spire was finished by 1977. The building was consecrated by Archbishop Thomas Vincent Cahill, archbishop of Canberra-Goulburn (a former Bendigo boy) and formally opened by His Eminence James Cardinal Freeman, Archbishop of Sydney. The plaque on the northern outside wall commemorating this translates as:
Under the patronage of the most Sacred Heart of Jesus, this church was completed by the Most Reverend Bernard Stewart, the fourth Bishop of Sandhurst. The Church was dedicated and consecrated by Thomas Vincent Cahill, Archbishop of Canberra, on 14 May, 1977.

On September 30, 2001 we continued the Sydney link when His Eminence Edward Cardinal Clancy was principal celebrant and preacher at the Mass to mark the centenary of the nave of the cathedral.

The original incandescent lighting in the nave which looked good but was ineffectual was replaced with high level indirect sodium flood-lights which highlight the timber roof as well as add to the general illumination. Additional quartz iodide spot-lights illuminate the main altar.

The tower is made of precast concrete panels on a steel frame to match the Mt Gambier stone. This provided less weight and a quicker finish to the project. Gutters, flashings and downpipes associated with the spire are stainless steel. The gargoyles (to ward off evil spirits), which discharge storm water from the spire are in cast aluminium, sculptured by Stanley Hammond and cast by Joe Lemon. They are the size of a grown person. Special precautions were taken to prevent blockage of gutters and outlets by nesting pigeons. The height of the main spire to the top of the cross is 284’3" (86.64m). The cross is 7 metres high and weighs three tonnes.

1896-1901, £33,000
1954-1977, $2,600,000 over 24 years. Approx. $100,000 pa was released, basically interest on funds from the Backhaus Estate.
Today, the building insured for approx. $105 Million!

The Altar is the central piece of furniture of the whole cathedral, ---the bishop, priests, the people all gather round it. It is there that the sacrifice of Christ is made present. The consecration of the altar was a most solemn moment in the cathedral’s consecration. In it are buried the relics of some martyrs. There are actually six altars in the cathedral. The main ceremony was performed by Archbishop Thomas Vincent Cahill CBE, Archbishop of Canberra, a former Bendigo boy. The special chapels were to be memorials to people associated with the diocese at various times and in various ways, and were originally highlighted by Bishop Stewart in his 1953 Pastoral Letter announcing the decision to complete the cathedral.

•    The Main Altar dedicated by Archbishop Cahill as a memorial to Rev. Dr. Henry Backhaus DD, first priest on the Goldfields and the first priest on Bendigo.

As a mark of respect for the bodies of the martyrs and other saints, and to denote that the sacrifice of the members drew its inspiration from the sacrifice of the Head, it is fitting that altars should be constructed over their tombs, or their relics placed beneath altars. This arrangement would seem to recall in a certain manner the spiritual vision of the Apostle John, in the Book of Revelations: “I saw underneath the altar the souls of all the people who had been killed on account of the word of God, for witnessing to it”. (Rev. 6:9)

Relics in High Altar: Ss Marcellinus & Sixtus
•    St Marcellinus: Pope 293 AD – 304. Beheaded in persecution of Diocletian.
•    St Sixtus: (Xytus) II Pope 260 – 261. Martyred in 261 in persecution of Valerian.

Latin inscription on the Main Altar: Unigenitus filius in sinu Patris ("The only begotten Son who is close to the Father's heart" John 1:18 NRSV). The X and P are the first two letters of CHRISTOS (Christ in Greek). The A and M are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, Alpha and Omega (See Apocalypse {Revelation} 22:13.)

The bishop’s chair or cathedra is the red covered chair under the canopy, at the far [east] end of the Sanctuary, under the wooden-carved canopy. Symbolically, it is the seat which the Bishop shepherds and governs the Diocese. A most significant moment of a new bishop taking possession of the diocese is his being seated on the cathedra which gets its name from Cathedral, mother-church of the Diocese. The cathedra in this cathedral is very ornate. It was hand carved from Austrian oak by the Tyrolese wood-carver Ferdinand Stuflesser of St Ulrich, Groden early in the 20th century and installed in 1914. It features three carved and gilded statues: St Patrick and St Augustine occupy niches either side of the bishop’s coat of arms with one of the Sacred Heart within the canopy above. Each bishop has the right to his own coat of arms and motto. Our present bishop, Bishop Leslie Tomlinson DD has chosen  In Christ’s Name as his motto.

The tapestries were woven by Sonia Carrington-Zakrzewska and they depict (on the left side as one faces the cathedra) the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The cathedral and a poppet head can be seen on it as well as Chinese dragons and gumnuts.

On the right side is St Kilian (buried in the cathedral of Wurzburg, a city not too far from Dr Henry Backhaus birthplace). St Kilian was an Irish missionary bishop, who was martyred at Wurzburg for defending the Catholic faith on marriage. Hence the symbols: A sword (at the base) because he is a martyr. He wears a mitre and carries a crozier to signify he is a bishop; he carries a cross because he is a missionary. The building on the left hand side is a Benedictine abbey that still stands in Paderborn. The building on the right is a Roman church, next to the cathedral in Paderborn, which has been standing there for about 1000 years or more.

The walls of the sanctuary are Sicilian Pearl marble, with Verdi Tinos marble floor surrounding the main altar which is of Dromana granite.

The brass eagle lectern in the sanctuary (on the left as you face the altar) was the gift of Bendigo’s "Quartz King", George Lansell.

On the MacKenzie Street side of the sanctuary is a special safe to house the Sacred Oils blessed at the Chrism Mass held annually in the Cathedral during Holy Week. These oils of the Catechumen, Sick and Chrism are used in the administration of the sacraments throughout the diocese. Currently the Oils are displayed in St Augustine’s Chapel.

The windows, apart from the Great West Window, are in coloured glass. There is no intention of having stained glass installed any where else in the cathedral as the golden light floods the building with the most beautiful colour representing Christ our truth and light.

The west window was made by the celebrated firm of John Hardman and Co in Birmingham, England. It is a superb example of ecclesiastical glass. It was the gift of Bishop Martin Crane. The central figure is Jesus depicted as the Sacred Heart. On the left of Jesus is Our Lady, on the right is his foster-father, St Joseph. On the far right is St Patrick and on the far left is St Augustine. In the circle at the top is the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove descending on the apostles (It looks as if he is telling the time at 7.00)! It is 32’ high (10.1m x 4.9m). Also depicted in the window are blue cornflowers---a symbol of Germany and a tribute to Rev Dr Henry Backhaus DD.

The grand organ was made by Bishop & Sons London in 1904 and installed and opened by 1906. It was rebuilt in 1951 by Hill, Norman and Beard and again in 1986-87 by Australian Pipe Organs. In 2010 it was completed with the addition of a 42 Bombarde pipes available at 16 and 32 foot pitch in the pedal division. It has 51 stops, electro-pneumatic action, 2,800 pipes spread over 5 divisions. There are 4 manual divisions: Great, Swell, Choir and Solo plus a comprehensive Pedal division. It is a very fine cathedral organ and highly regarded nationally.

There is also a small organ, a Laukhuff Positiv organ by Aug. Laukhuff, Wiekersheim, Germany and installed by Bellsham Pipe Organs, Western Australia in 1982. It has four ranks and mechanical action. It is housed under the crossing.

In the Lady Chapel is a fine Mason & Hamlin Harmonium from the Convent of Mercy (St Mary’s) Chapel.

Five bells were installed in the Cathedral by September 30, 2001. They were blessed by Cardinal Degenhardt, Archbishop of Paderborn, on September 16, 2001. They are a European peal of 5 bells which compliment, but are different from the peal of 8 bells in the English manner at St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral in Bendigo. The notes that they sound can play the Salve Regina & Te Deum, using the notes E, G sharp, B, C sharp and E’. They were cast by Paccard Fonderie de Cloches, Annecy-le-Vieux, France. The supervision of the installation was by Mr. Hervey Bagot of Bagots Bellfoundries, South Australia.
Traditionally bells are given a name, usually that of a Saint, at the time of blessing. The five bells (beginning with the biggest) are:
•    St. Augustine, in memory of our first two bishops (Martin Crane & Stephen Reville), and honour the contribution of the Augustinian fathers to the Diocese of Sandhurst (until recently they looked after the parishes of Echuca, Kyabram and Rochester).
•    St. Patrick, in honour of our first three bishops (Martin Crane, Stephen Reville & John McCarthy) who were all Irish and to acknowledge the contribution of Irish immigrants to the life and culture of the Diocese.
•    St. Liborius (originally the Bishop of Le Mans, France, about the year 360, and patron saint of the Cathedral of Paderborn, the city from whence came Dr. Henry Backhaus, the first priest on the Bendigo gold fields. This bell recognises the continuing relationship between the diocese of Paderborn and the diocese of Sandhurst.
•    Mother of Good Counsel. Under this title our Lady is the principle patroness of the Diocese. The original picture of the Mother of Good Counsel is in the basilica at Genazzano, in the hills near Rome. The Augustinian Fathers care for this shrine.
•    Blessed Mary MacKillop in honour of Australia’s first beata. Since this installation, Mary MacKillop has be canonised a saint for the Universal Church under the title Saint Mary of the Cross. We have not reinscribed the bell!
The Blessed Sacrament Chapel (dedicated by Bishop Bernard Stewart DD BA LLB, Bishop of Sandhurst). "A memorial to all who shared in this glorious work of completion of the cathedral".

Relics in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel:      Ss John & Paul.
•    Ss John & Paul: were brothers and Romans martyred 362 under Julian the Apostate.

The Blessed Sacrament altar is of Swedish rose-red granite.
The sanctuary lamp is centuries old, thought to be 17th Century, probably of Florentine origin. It was a gift of Rev Fr John Stockdale in memory of Rev Fr John Daley.

On the front of the Tabernacle in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel are two exquisite figures of St John and Our Lady by the silver-smith Dan Flynn. These and the tabernacle were covered in gold leafing by A. Pierini. The tabernacle is surmounted by a fine gold and enamel mosaic crucifix. This was brought back to Sacred Heart Cathedral, by Bishop Reville, after one of his ad limina visits to Rome and installed in the Cathedral in 1904. It is an 18th century gold and enamel crucifix depicting the famous churches of Rome around its base.
In the front of the altar in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel is a scene depicting the Last Supper by Stanley Hammond.

The mosaics were designed and created by Anne Graham The ones in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel are in rich orange, yellow, red and gold and depict new life and sacrifice. From left to right:
1.    Monogram: X
2.    Pelican: Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross.
3.    Candlestick: Christ the Light of the World.
4.    The Butterfly: Eternal life through Jesus Christ.
5.    Cornerstone: Christ the key or Cornerstone, the foundation.
6.    The Lamb Slain: Symbol of Christ.
7.    Fish and Loaf of Bread: Fish in Greek letters---initial letters of Jesus Christ, God’s Son and Saviour. Bread: "I am the bread of life, this is my body which is given for you."
8.    Wheat: Bread of the Eucharist.
9.    Peacock: immortality.
10.    Pomegranate: inner unity of countless seeds in one fruit.
11.    Phoenix: resurrection of Christ.
12.    Son of Righteousness: refers to Jesus.
13.    Ciborium: Chalice refers to Last Supper and sacrifice of Jesus.
14.    Monstrance: used to house Jesus for exposition and Benediction.
The statue of the Sacred Heart was sculpted by Mariano Fracasso.

The Lady Chapel (dedicated by Bishop Francis Xavier Thomas DD BA DipEd, Bishop of Geraldton). "A memorial to the American men and women who stood between us and annihilation in the dark days of 1941-45".
 Relics in Our Lady’s Altar:        Ss Perpetua & Felicity
•    Ss Perpetua & Felicity who came from Carthage and were killed under the sword by Severus c.203.
The altar in the Lady Chapel is white Carrara marble.
In the front of the altar in Our Lady’s Chapel is a scene depicting the Annunciation by Stanley Hammond.

The mosaics in the Lady Chapel by Anne Graham are taken from the Marian Litany of Loretto which is said after saying the Rosary. These are in Marian blues, gold and silver. From left to right:
1.    Mater Dei: Mother of God.
2.    Star. Stella Maris Star of the Sea, Symbol of the Virgin.
3.    Ark of the Covenant.
4.    Rose (Mystic) (or No.11?) White rose, symbol of purity.
5.    The Pierced Heart.
6.    The Gate: or closed gate, in reference to her unblemished Virginity
7.    Monogram.
8.    The Tower of David.
9.    Hare (Rabbit) white hare: Her triumph over lust.
10.    Fountain of living water: Sealed well of the symbol of Virginity of Mary.
11.    Lilium Candidum---The Annunciation (or No.4?): Symbol of Purity.
12.    The crescent moon: identify the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception.
13.    Fleur de lys
14.    Mater Dei
Vine: (only leaves here) flourishes under the care of God "the Keeper of the Vineyard": ‘blood of Christ’.

The statue of Our Lady was sculpted by Mariano Fracasso.

Opposite the Statue of Our Lady is the diocesan candle to Our Lady of Good Counsel.

In the crypt under this chapel are buried six former bishops of Sandhurst, their names are displayed on the plaques. The crypt is accessed by lifting the marble panels in the centre of the floor. It is about three metres deep and the same width as the chapel above it. The coffins are placed and sealed in niches in accordance with local health regulations. Their coats of arms and a copy of the burial plaque are on the walls.
The relics in St Joseph’s chapel are Ss Cosmas and Damian who were brothers in Cilicia (Asia Minor)martyred 285 under Diocletian.
St Joseph’s Chapel (dedicated by Bishop Arthur Fox DD, Bishop of Sale). "A memorial to the men and women of religious orders involved in education and charity".
The altar in the Chapel of St. Joseph, the burial chapel, is of black granite from South Australia. St Joseph’s or Mortuary Chapel: Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine (Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord)

The cathedra housed in the burial chapel is thought to be the original bishop’s chair coming to us from St. Kilian’s pro- cathedral and was used until 1914. It still displays Bishop Reville’s coat of arms.
Near St Joseph’s Chapel is an Icon of St Mary of the Cross, MacKillop. This was commissioned for the diocese from Ivan Morozoff, a fine Russian traine local iconographer. It was installed and bless by Bishop Joseph Grech on October 17, 2010.
Also in October 2010, the Mary MacKillop Garden was begun on the MacKenzie side of the Cathedral. It is in the shape of the hand-held wooden cross with which Mary MacKillop often prayed.

There are twelve of these spread throughout the cathedral. When the cathedral was consecrated it was anointed with chrism. The red and gold crosses mark the points where this happened. There is a candle which sits below each cross. According to tradition the candles are lit on the anniversary of the consecration of the cathedral. When the bishop anoints the walls of the church with oil, he does what Moses did, who with oil anointed the tabernacle and all its furnishings. Twelve anointings are made signifying that a church is an image of the holy city Jerusalem, which had “twelve foundations stones, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb”. (Rev. 21:16)

In the south transept are the portraits of the first priest on the Goldfields and our Bishops, the Vicars of Christ in our diocese! From lest to right:

1.    Bishop Martin Crane OSA DD --- 1874 – 1901.
2.    Bishop Stephen Reville OSA DD --- 1901 – 1916.
3.    Bishop John McCarthy DD --- 1917 – 1950.
4.    Bishop Bernard Stewart DD BA LLB --- 1950 – 1979.
5.    Bishop Noel Daly DD --- 1979 – 2000.
6.    Bishop Joseph Grech DD --- 2001 – 2010
7.    Bishop Leslie Tomlinson DD --- 2012 - (presently there is no portrait him)

The crucifix shown in Bishop Reville’s portrait now sits on the main altar when the altar is not in use for Mass. The table Bishop Reville is resting his hand on is one of a pair in St Augustine’s Chapel. They are often used by wedding couples when they sign the wedding registers.

In the Transepts there are four confessionals with the four evangelist on each door.
•    Matthew (Man) The emblem of the ‘Divine Man’ was assigned to St Matthew in ancient times because his Gospel teaches us about the human nature of Christ. A gold angel on a red field.
•    Mark (Lion) The winged lion, ancient symbol of St Mark, refers to his Gospel, which informs us of the royal dignity of Christ. A gold winged lion and nimbus on a red field.
•    Luke (Ox) The winged ox, assigned to St Luke, is a reference to his Gospel, which deals with sacrificial aspects of Christ’s life. A gold ox and nimbus on a red field.
•    John (Eagle) The ancient symbol of a rising eagle is said to have been assigned to St John the Evangelist because his gaze pierced further into the mysteries of Heaven than that of any man. The manner of his death is not known. A gold eagle rising and nimbus on a blue field.
In the woodwork surrounding the confessionals and the doors are the crests of the 12 apostles. Beginning at the confessionals near St Joseph’s Chapel or The Baptismal Chapel:
•    St Peter: The triple cross represents the Vatican and the keys the Kingdom of Heaven. St Peter requested that his cross be inverted so he might look heavenward as he was crucified.
•    Andrew: brother of Peter, Patron of Russia, Scotland and the Ecumenical Patriarchate. According to tradition he was crucified on an X shaped cross, known as a saitire, or St Andrew’s cross in Achaia.
•    James the Great: The patron of Spain and of pilgrims. He is mentioned as the first of the disciples to go on a missionary journey. The escallop shells refer to pilgrimage.
•    John: This emblem of St John the ‘Beloved Disciple’ refers to the legend of a poisoned chalice being offered to him, in an attempt made on his life. He is often depicted in Last Supper scenes with his head on the breast of Christ and is therefore said the be the only person to have heard the heartbeat of God!
•    Philip:  It was to St Philip that Christ addressed his remark concerning feeding of the multitude. (John 6:5-7) The bags represent money needed to buy food.
•    Bartholomew: Armenia and India are believed to have been the areas of his missionary work. He is said to have been flayed (skun) alive and crucified. There is a Bible and a flaying knife.
•    Matthew: The money bags refer to the occupation of St Matthew before he was called to follow Christ. He was a tax gatherer known as Levi.
•    Thomas: The patron of builders. He is said to have built a Church with his own hands in East India. The spear refers to the instrument of his martyrdom. A carpenter’s square represents the builder.
•    James the Less: This symbol refers to the tradition that St James was cast down from a pinnacle of the Temple in Jerusalem, stoned and sawn asunder by some of the Jews.
•    Jude: The sailing vessel here represents the Church, which St Jude (also known as Thaddeus or Lebbaeus) carried to many ports as he journeyed as a missionary.
•    Simon: The companion of St Jude on many missionary journeys. St Simon is known as a great fisher of men through the power of the Gospel.
•    Matthias: Chosen by lot, to replace Judas Iscariot. St Matthias served as a missionary in Judea where he is said to have been stoned and beheaded. The sword and the open Bible.

These saints are featured in several ways in this cathedral: in the back window (west end), in two chapels dedicated to them respectively, in the little painted hand-carved wooden statues on the Bishop’s chair ornamentation and two of the bells are named after them. (Though the Augustine in the Stained glass back window is said to be not Augustine of Hippo but Augustine of Canterbury!)

The ceilings were mentioned above when dealing with the wood work. The floors radiate out from the centre stone. This is easily seen in St. Augustine’s & St. Patrick’s chapels.

The Octagon  is the meeting place between heaven and earth. The Circle represents heaven, perfection, and the Square represents earth. When you place them together they make an octagon, thus it is the meeting place between heaven and earth. In some references the eighth side represents the eighth day of creation, the resurrection, thus making Christ present. Our spires and chapels are all octagonal.

•    St Augustine’s Chapel (dedicated by Bishop John Kelly DD, Titular Bishop of Zucchabar and Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne). "A memorial to the Augustinian bishops Crane and Reville".
Relics in St Augustine’s Chapel: SsThomas of Villanova & Anastasia
•    St Thomas of Villanova: 1488 – 1555, Spaniard. Bishop of Valencia. Member of the Order of Hermits of St Augustine OSA.
•    St Anastasia: Burnt alive 25 December c.304 under Diocletian.
The altar of St. Augustine is of Brecia Aurora marble from the altars in the former Corpus Christi Seminary, Mt. Waverley (now the Police Academy). The inset strips across the opening of the four side chapels are of Lipos Brilliant marble.

Our first two bishops were Irish Augustinians. The Augustinian fathers, who follow the rule of St Augustine, administered the parishes of Echuca, Kyabram and Rochester until recently. This also explains why Our Lady under the title of Mother of Good Counsel is the patroness of the Diocese. The famous picture of Our Lady under this title is in the basilica in Genazzano (about 90 minutes out of Rome, up in the hills), and that basilica is cared for by the Augustinian Fathers and Brothers. By the way, our Bishop’s residence is called Genazzano.

Augustine is shown with a heart in his hand because in his Confessions (autobiography) he wrote: Our hearts were made for you, O Lord, and they will not rest until they rest in You.

On Augustine’s altar are the words Tolle lege (take and read), alluding to an incident when Augustine heard a child singing those words, and Augustine opened his bible at random, and read Romans 13:13-14: Let us live decently as people do in daytime: no drunken orgies, no promiscuity or licentiousness, and no wrangling or jealousy. Let your armour be the Lord Jesus Christ; forget about satisfying your bodies with all their cravings.

In St Augustine’s Chapel where morning mass is celebrated (in the choir stalls from the former Mount Alvernia Chapel) is an imitation of Raphael’s Transfiguration. It used to hang in the Bendigo Art Gallery (on loan). It was probably brought back from Rome after one of Mgr. Rooney’s visits there. Opposite it is the Diocesan Quilt. The Diocesan Quilt was a project to show the unity of the diocese during the great 2000 Jubilee Year. Each parish designed and created one square.

The statue of St Augustine was sculpted by Mariano Fracasso.

•    St Patrick’s Chapel (dedicated by Bishop Leo Clarke DD, Bishop of Maitland (now Maitland-Newcastle). "A memorial to pioneer Irish priests and people and to Bishop John McCarthy DD, (third Bishop of Sandhurst), who built so well on their sure foundation". It is intended to "remind the generations to come of their debt and ours to that land where so many of our forebears saw the light of day".
Relics in St Patrick’s Chapel: Ss Cornelius & Constantine
•    St Cornelius: Pope, beheaded in 253.
•    St Constantine: Abbot 6th Century, Scotland’s first martyr.

The altar of St. Patrick’s chapel is Harcourt granite.

St Patrick’s symbol is the shamrock, which has leaves, like clover. With three sections --- one yet three, a symbol of the Trinity, one God who is three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Hence the inscription on his altar Unitas in Trinitate (Unity in the Trinity).

The statue of  St Patrick was sculpted by Mariano Fracasso.

•    St Francis Xavier’s Chapel (the Baptistry). "A memorial to those who served Australia in two World Wars and all other wars.
The Baptismal Font features a variety of inlaid marbles.
In each chapel we have statues of the appropriate saint except for the Baptistry which is the chapel of St Francis Xavier but houses the statue of St Therese of Lisieux "the little flower".

Near the Baptistery is a carved shrine of St Dominic praying the Rosary with a painting of Our Lady of Good Counsel. This shrine was erected and blessed on Sunday May 1, 1904, when a society of the Holy Rosary with 200 members was formed at Sacred Heart Cathedral. Over the shrine was placed a mosaic cross, now over the tabernacle in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. Where the mosaic cross was is now a painting of Our Lady of Good Counsel, Patroness of the Diocese of Sandhurst.

Along the walls of the nave are 14 pictures tracing the last journey of Jesus on the way to Calvary. They are one of two examples of the artist’s work in Bendigo, the other being the frescos in St Mary’s Chapel at the Coolock site of Catholic College Bendigo (formerly St Mary’s College—a Mercy school). They were painted by the Italian artist A F D Cavallaro. One, unsubstantiated story is that he shipped the painting out from Rome and painted Bendigo faces on them when he arrived here. They were installed in the cathedral in 1902. They begin at St Patrick’s Chapel and finish at St. Augustine’s Chapel.
Above the double doors on the McKenzie Street side of the nave is the only plaster statue in the building. It represents St Vincent de Paul, the champion of the poor. It was never removed from the building during the whole time of the internal renovations.
1.    Pilate condemns Jesus to death.
2.    Jesus takes up his cross.
3.    Jesus falls the first time.
4.    Jesus meets his mother.
5.    Simon helps Jesus carry his cross.
6.    Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.
7.    Jesus falls the second time.
8.    Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem.
9.    Jesus falls the third time.
10.    Jesus is stripped of his clothes.
11.    Jesus is nailed to the cross.
12.    Jesus dies on the cross.
13.    Jesus is taken down from the cross.
14.    Jesus is laid in the tomb.

Cavallaro also painted the large picture of the Sacred Heart now in the narthex. Originally this large picture hung on the false wall at the end of the nave above the high altar looking rather small and always looked crooked no matter what one did to straighten it.

Also, there are plaques of Organists & Choir Directors.
The Pieta scene in the narthex. This is hand carved Tyrolese gilded wood work by Ferdinand Stufflessor of St Ulrich, Groden. The figures are larger than life. It was installed in the Cathedral in 1914.

Backhaus Tribute: The land sale bill and deeds can be seen hanging in a frame near the West Door
At the rear of the building is a picture of the current pontiff, Pope Benedict VI. He is our Vicar of Christ on Earth. It is traditional for the picture of the current Pope to be displayed in churches. Also we have a picture of our current bishop, Bishop Leslie Tomlinson beside him.

In the cathedral there are several statues to remind us of role models who are special among the saints. Above the double doors on the McKenzie Street side of the nave is the only plaster statue in the building. It represents St Vincent de Paul, the champion of the poor. It was never removed from the building during the whole time of the internal renovations. In each chapel we have statues of the appropriate saint except for the Baptistry which is the chapel of St Francis Xavier but houses the statue of St Therese of Lisieux "the little flower". The statues of the Sacred Heart, Our Lady, St Patrick and St Augustine were sculpted by Mariano Fracasso.

Externally there are statues above the two transept doors. On the McKenzie street side is one to Our Lady of Monte Berico, recalling the stone masons who came from that region, and over the High Street side is one to St. Francis of Assissi, protector of animals. In the grounds are a Calvary scene and a grotto depicting the Blessed Virgin Mary appearing to Bernadette at Lourdes, France. Both these sets of marble statues were brought in to the cathedral when the St Aidan’s Orphanage, conducted by the Good Shepherd nuns, was closed and sold. Another fine statue from there depicting the Good Shepherd stands outside the Anglican church of St Peter’s Eastern Hill (opposite St Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne).

Also in the burial chapel is a statue representing the buried Christ. It was previously located at St Aidan’s Orphanage.

Between the fourth and fifth Stations of the Cross on the floor is a "donkey". Can you find it?

1.    Sacred Heart Cathedral Bendigo $2.00 (Self-guided tour with dates, dimensions and pictures)
2.    Centenary Commemoration 1901 – 2001 by Mal J Nolan (History of the first 100 years of the Cathedral since its opening in 1901)
3.    150 Years of Harmony by John Hogan $20.00 (history of the Sacred Heart Cathedral Choir and musicians)
4.    Dr Henry Backhaus by Mal J Nolan $2.00 (Short 8-page booklet)
5.    The Enterprising Life of Dr Henry Backhaus by Mal J Nolan $25.00
6.    Postcards, a selection $1.00 each
7.    A3 Line Drawing by Denis Winspear $2.00

Compiled by John Hogan 2001, last revised and enlarged 17/10/2012.

Acknowledgement of Country
The Diocese of Sandhurst recognises the traditional custodians of the lands upon which we live, serve and worship.
We acknowledge the people of the regions of our Diocese.
We respectfully honour and acknowledge their ongoing custodianship and their connections to the land, waters and animals. We pay our respects to their culture, their Elders, past, present and emerging, for they hold the memories, the traditions, the culture and the hopes of their peoples.
We express our gratitude in the sharing of this land, our sorrow for the personal, spiritual and cultural costs of that sharing and commit ourselves to actively working alongside First Nations People for healing, reconciliation and justice.