‘Minor Basilica’ status sought for Goulburn’s Sts Peter and Paul Cathedral
With its landmark heritage restoration well underway, Archbishop Christopher Prowse has petitioned the Vatican for Sts Peter and Paul’s Old Cathedral in Goulburn to be granted ‘minor basilica’ status.
If approved, it will be a rare distinction for Australia’s Catholic churches. It would be only the sixth church to be accorded the honour, joining St Mary’s in Sydney, St Patrick’s in Melbourne, and other churches in Western Australia and Victoria.
Less than two thousand churches worldwide are recognised as ‘minor basilicas’. They enjoy a special relationship to the Holy See, which includes an entitlement to use Papal symbols and privileges associated with plenary indulgences.
In a lengthy and rigorous process, churches need to meet liturgical, historical, structural, and artistic conditions before approval could be granted.
A decision on Goulburn’s Old Cathedral is not expected for several months.
In the petition, Archbishop Prowse highlighted its historic role as the Cathedral Church of the Diocese of Goulburn and the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn until 1973.
He noted the significant restoration and renovation project being carried out at the Cathedral to coincide with this year’s celebrations to mark 150 years since the first stage of the building was opened in 1872.
With a NSW heritage listing, he also drew attention to the Cathedral’s ‘greenstone’ structure, the only Catholic church in the world to have served as a cathedral made of this feature.
The Archdiocese’s application was supported by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and civic leaders.
The burial place of three former bishops, Goulburn parish priest Fr Joshy Kurien described the Old Cathedral as the “gem of Goulburn”.
Since the heritage works began in 2020 he said underpinning, stabilisation work, and all the electrical rewiring had now been completed.
Replacement of the roof and guttering were well underway as was painting, audio-visual, and lighting works. Restoration of the Cathedral’s stained-glass windows was also in progress.
Fr Kurien expected the project to be completed towards the end of this year.
“We hope and pray that when we come back at the end of November the Old Cathedral will have a new status as Australia’s sixth Minor Basilica.
“It would be a great honour and recognition of its spiritual, historical, architectural and heritage significance.
“These are exciting times,” he said.
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