St Francis Catholic Church (Melbourne)
St Francis' Church is the oldest Catholic church in Victoria, Australia. Located on the corner of Lonsdale Street and Elizabeth Street, it is one of only three buildings in central Melbourne which predates the Gold Rush of 1851.
The church's foundation stone was laid on 4 October 1841, the feast day of St Francis of Assisi, to whom the church is dedicated. It was commissioned by Fr Patrick Geoghegan, the first Catholic priest in the Port Phillip District of New South Wales, which became Victoria in 1851. In 1848 St Francis' became the cathedral church of the first Catholic Bishop of Melbourne, James Goold, and continued as a Cathedral until 1868, when the diocesan seat was moved to the still unfinished St Patrick's Cathedral (which was not formally consecrated until 1897).
Centrally located in the Melbourne's CBD, St Francis' has never lost its place as one of the city's most popular and widely used churches, and today is the busiest church in Australia, with more than 10,000 worshippers attending each week. Since 1929 it has been a Centre of Eucharistic Life in the care of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament. The church is listed with Victorian Heritage Register, the National Trust of Australia (Victoria) and the Australian Heritage Commission. Although there have been many changes made to the building, including the erection of a new tower, a gift from the Grollo family, to house the original 1853 bell imported from Dublin, the church remains essentially as it was designed by Samuel Jackson.