National Shrine

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National Pilgrimage 2016


National Shrine to Our Lady Help of Christians, Canberra

In the early 1920’s the Catholics of Australia wanted to honour the mother of God, Mary Help of Christians because she is patroness of Australia and our Heavenly Mother. They petitioned the Commonwealth Government for a land grant in Canberra to build a magnificent shrine, a Cathedral in her honour.

Canberra was chosen because it was the Capital of Australia and the seat of Government. It was meant to be a place of pilgrimage so that all Australians could come and pay homage to Our Blessed Mother and to petition her, and thank her for favours, as all graces come through her hands.

In 1929 the Commonwealth Government gave four land grants to various denominations. The Catholic Church was given 5 acres at Regatta Point, where the Archbishop’s house is presently situated. In 1930 Archbishops James Duhig of Brisbane and Daniel Mannix of Melbourne in the presence of Prime Minister Jim Scullin, laid the foundation stone (photo here).

During that year a large competition was held and six prominent architects were asked to submit designs for the National Shrine and Cathedral. The winning architects, Ward Moore and Dowling, designed a huge Cathedral to seat 3000. This Cathedral had its main altar to Mary Help of Christians and nine side altars to St Joseph, St Therese, etc. Funds needed to be raised for such a large project. The Depression and World War II brought about difficult economic times and further development was delayed.

Cardinal Gilroy in 1965 chaired a committee to continue the development and he passed a motion that “All the bishops of Australia would support the Archbishop of Canberra Goulburn to construct the National Shrine”. Archbishop Cahill continued with the project, followed by Archbishops Clancy and Carrol who for various reasons did not proceed with the project. In 1969 Fr Bossence left a large bequest and many others have contributed to the “Cathedral Account”. Today this does not amount to very much and funds need to be raised to proceed with this project.

Many Australians with Marian devotion have prayed that the project would be rekindled. When Archbishop Coleridge was appointed bishop of Canberra, he displayed a keen interest in promoting the National Shrine and Cathedral. He was impressed that so many Australians were praying for this project and asked for these prayers to be increased. We also pray that his brother bishops support him in this endeavour.

The building and promotion of this project would bring about a renewed devotion to Our Lady for all Australians and bring many to the Catholic faith. We ask St Joseph that through his intercession he will provide the means for this project. We hope that it will become a reality in the near future, and that Our Lady Help of Christians, will take possession of our land and our politics. We need her to guide all Australians to her most beloved son Jesus Christ.

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