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See also: David Hutchison's Walk 7, St Patrick's Basilica precinct, in his Fremantle Walks, and also the earlier St Patrick's Church.

St Patrick's Basilica

Adelaide St, 1900

Hitchcock: The first Roman Catholic place of worship in Fremantle was opened [in 1846]. The denomination purchased a house situated on lot 67 in Henry Street, and that was converted into a little convent and a room set apart for a chapel. The chapel was served on Sundays by a priest from Perth. There was no resident priest in Fremantle until 1855, when the first Sisters of St. Joseph - four in number - arrived with several missionaries. Soon afterwards the building of a presbytery, chapel and convent was commenced in Adelaide Street and Parry Street. Lay brothers trained in carpentry did much of the work, which was finished in 1859. Since then the convent has been enlarged by the addition of another storey and schools have been built. Recently the old presbytery was demolished and a more ornate structure erected on its site. The old chapel still stands, but has been superseded by a new and imposing edifice built in front of it. Hitchcock 1929: 32. [The convent and old chapel to which Hitchcock refers have both been demolished.]

Wikipedia: The word 'basilica' has two meanings. The earlier one referred to a particular type of building. The relevant meaning here refers to the importance of the church, and its parish. There are four major basilicas, all in Rome, and over 1600 minor basilicas elsewhere, of which this is one. It means that this parish is obliged to fulfil certain liturgical obligations, and: 'It should be sufficiently large and with an ample sanctuary. It should be renowned for history, relics or sacred images, and should be served by a sufficient number of priests and other ministers and by an adequate choir.' Wikipedia


St Patrick's with the current Presbytery on the left.

st pats

St Joseph's College Convent also used to be in Adelaide Street. It is now marked only by this plaque in the footpath:

This 1961 photo shows St Joseph's in the background. (Thanks to Peter Vinci.)

An earlier photo showing the building unfinished. The Moreton Bay fig tree on the left - the Proclamation Tree - was planted in 1890.

Heritage Council:
Register of Heritage Places - Permanent Entry St Patrick's Basilica
Permanent Entry
1. DATA BASE No. 0845
2. NAME St. Patrick's Basilica and St Patrick's Presbytery
(1900, 1916)
3. LOCATION 47 Adelaide Street, Fremantle
Lots 4 and 5 on Diagram 17232 being the whole of the land comprised in
Certificate of Title Volume 1186 Folio 28.
5. LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA City of Fremantle
6. OWNER Roman Catholic Archbishop of Perth
• Register of Heritage Places: Interim Entry 02/06/1995
• Permanent Entry 09/02/1996
• National Trust Classification: 01/08/1983
• City of Fremantle Town Planning Scheme:
• Register of National Estate: 21/10/1980
St. Patrick's Basilica and Presbytery, a rusticated limestone basilica with
parapeted gable and flying buttresses, and a double storey brick and stucco
presbytery with wide verandahs on each side, has cultural heritage
significance for the following reasons:
the place has a close association with the Oblate order and the
establishment of their order in Fremantle 100 years ago;
the place is a landmark in the northern approach to the City of
Fremantle and contributes to the streetscape qualities of Adelaide
the place was designed by the noted architect Michael Cavanagh;
the place is an excellent example of the Federation Gothic style of
architecture, displaying the principle [sic] characteristics of the style in an
exuberant and self-confident fashion;
the place is held in high regard by the various migrant communities
who worship there;
the place is held in high regard by the authorities of the Roman
Catholic Church and has recently been recognised as a minor basilica
by the Vatican; and,
St. Patrick's Presbytery exhibits a high degree of internal design
integrity and defines the corner of Quarry, Adelaide and Parry Streets,
St. Patrick's Memorial Hall (c.1950) which is situated at the rear of St. Patrick's
Basilica has little cultural significance and is not included in this assessment.

References and Links

Geraldine Byrne 2000, A Basilica in the Making: the Centenary of St Patrick's Fremantle, Mazenod Press.

J.K. Hitchcock 1929, The History of Fremantle, The Front Gate of Australia 1829-1929, Fremantle City Council.

Hutchison, David, Walk 7, St Patrick's Basilica precinct, Fremantle Walks.

Wikipedia entry

Garry Gillard | New: 25 September, 2014 | Now: 23 November, 2023