On this day in 1847...


09 July 2021

Presented By

Archbishop Peter A Comensoli

On this day in 1847, Pope Pius IX appointed Fr James Alipius Goold as the first bishop of the newly established Diocese of Melbourne. The Diocese had only been officially erected two weeks before, and it would be another 12 months before the bishop arrived in Melbourne to take up his new ministry. Archbishop Peter A Comensoli recently visited the James Goold Museum where the original altar from Bishop Goold's installation Mass is kept, along with other fascinating artefacts that give insight into the life of our Catholic community here in Melbourne. Archbishop Comensoli also maps out a few other sites worth visiting the next time you're in town, including the Mary Glowrey Museum, which celebrates the life and work of Melbourne Catholic Dr Sr Mary Glowrey, the world's first "Sister Doctor".


'Hello friends. I'm actually at the moment inside the Archdiocesan historical museum. And I'm just standing in front of what was the original altar in St Francis’ Church here in the city. It dates back to 1842 and it was the altar for St Francis’ when Bishop Goold initially was appointed the first Bishop of the Diocese of Melbourne, which became the Archdiocese of Melbourne. And so, next year in twelve months’ time, it will be the 175th anniversary of our diocese, which is something already we're looking towards acknowledging and celebrating in a year's time. It also happens to be the 125th anniversary of our cathedral, St Patrick's Cathedral. So next year 2022 is a very significant year for the life of our Archdiocese.

This little museum which is quite lovely is across the road from the Cathedral on Albert Street and it’s open most days, so feel free to come and have a look. In this part of Melbourne – this eastern part of Melbourne City there's a number of other significant historical and faith-related places.

Of course, there’s our St Patrick's Cathedral, the preeminent historical building but also just the heart of our church here in Melbourne. Here in the museum are the archives of the Archdiocese, across the road from the cathedral. Just down the road a little bit is the Mary MacKillop Heritage Centre. And again, there's a lovely museum there that you can go and visit to learn about the life of our first saint, Mary MacKillop, and the Sisters of St Joseph will be delighted to welcome you. The Heritage Centre is across the road from Fitzroy Gardens down on Albert Street.

The third place I would like to just draw your attention to is the Mary Glowrey Museum, which is on the Australian Catholic University site on Brunswick Street, just a block away from where I'm standing at the moment. But why go there? Because Mary Glowrey, I hope, will be the next saint of Australia. Mary, I hope, you would perhaps have already heard of her little, but Mary was laywoman here in Melbourne. Certainly one of the first cohort of those who trained—women—who trained at the University of Melbourne. She was instrumental in establishing and founding the Catholic Women's Guild that now is the Catholic Women's League here in Victoria. Eventually she moved to India, and there she became a religious sister of the congregation of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, and she became the first – what's known as a “sister doctor”. The first in the world – who was a religious sister, and a medical doctor. At the same time, she was instrumental in establishing clinics, and organisations for the care of the very poor in India. And in fact, now India has the largest non-government medical organisation in the world and that was Mary Glowrey’s establishment. Mary’s cause for sainthood is underway and it's been organised in India, rather than in Australia because she died in India is buried there and I hope that in the not-too-distant future, we might be able to say that the second saint of Australia is Mary Glowrey – another local girl of faith who's done wonderfully well.

Anyway, if you have a chance, there are three or four sites in this eastern part of Melbourne that you might like to visit to learn more about the history of our faith, but also the lives of those saintly people who were our forebears.'

—Archbishop Peter A Comensoli