St Francis Xavier's Cathedral: Stained glass windows

St Francis Xavier's Cathedral was designed to built in stages, so that each section could be constructed as funds became available. As such, the cathedral was built between 1851-1926. As the first cathedral in Adelaide, St Francis Xavier is home to a number of significant stained glass windows.

As you enter the cathedral, the first stained glass windows you will notice are the doors to the nave. The stained glass in the windows on the right represent the Catholic Popes who have presided over the church since the laying of the Cathedral's foundation stone in the 1850s. The windows to the left represent the Bishops and Archbishops who have presided over the Catholic church in Adelaide. The central doors feature Christian iconography, including the Eucharist, the symbol of Communion, and the Crucifix. A unique feature among these is the city's Coat of Arms.

To the right of the altar at the front of the cathedral is a small chapel. The chapel was built in 1859 and is dedicated to the Patron Saint of the church, St Francis Xavier. Two Saints, St Lawrence and St Patrick, feature in the stained glass windows of the chapel and are an acknowledgement of the second and third Bishops of Adelaide. Made locally in South Australia in 1892, they are the oldest windows within the cathedral. 

Located behind the altar at the front of the church is the east stained glass window. It is the largest example of stained glass in the city. Traditionally, the altar would be located at the eastern end of the church so that the rising sun would shine through the main window. As it was expected that the cathedral would be added to in stages over a number of years, the east and west windows were actually placed on the north and south walls of the building, as these sections of the church's structure were not expected to change with the additions! 

The east window features six Biblical scenes from the New Testament and significant events from the lives of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. The glass was created and purchased from the Melbourne firm, Brooks-Robinson in 1930. Notably, the glass was not installed into the wall of the cathedral, but sits in front of a set of existing windows which offer protection from the outside. 

On the opposite wall of the cathedral is the Rose Window, which is commonly found in Gothic-style churches. Rose windows are often circular, representating the shape of the flower. The centre of the cathedral's Rose Window features a blazing sun, which is circled by four seraphims that are further surrounded by eight angels.The windows on each of the four sides represent St Mark, St Matthew, St Luke and St John.

Along the bottom of the Rose Window are a set of six lancet windows which depict St Patrick, St Thomas Aquinas, St Joseph, St Peter, St Catherine of Siena and St Francis Xavier. These windows were designed by London firm, C.E. Kemp and were donated to the cathedral by prominent South Australian businessman, Count Thomas O'Loughlin in memory of his wife, Kitty. 

Access Information:

St Francis Xavier is open to the public throughout the week, but please be mindful of Mass times.

Street Address:

11 Wakefield Street, Adelaide [map]

Cite this Page:

Natalie Carfora, “St Francis Xavier's Cathedral: Stained glass windows,” Adelaide City Explorer, accessed April 27, 2017, http://adelaidecityexplorer.com.au/items/show/203.

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