Saints Peter and Paul's Old Cathedral

Parish of Mary, Queen of Apostles


NSW, Australia



The first Mass in the Goulburn District was celebrated by Father Therry in 1833 at Matt Healey’s Inn (now called “Riversdale” – a National Trust property).

Archbishop Polding visited Goulburn in 1840 and laid out the site for the first Church.  Other sites were also considered but in 1844 the construction of the Sts Peter & Paul’s Parish Church began on the current site at the corner of Bourke and Verner Streets.  The original brick church was completed in 1848.  Father Richard Walsh was Parish Priest from 1847.  Some of the old church foundations are still visible under the Cathedral floor today.  After the church was opened in 1848 by Archbishop Polding work began on the construction of the presbytery next to the Cathedral on Verner Street.

In 1864 Goulburn was created a Diocese.  Bishop Geoghegan was appointed bishop but died in Ireland before taking up his appointment.  Bishop Lanigan was then appointed as bishop.  In 1871 the construction of the present Cathedral was commenced.  Bishop Lanigan secured the services of Andrea Stombuco as the architect. 

The Cathedral was built in two stages.  The nave of the Cathedral was constructed first under the direct supervision of Mr. Stombuco.  The nave of the old church was demolished and taken out through the western doors of the Cathedral.  The second stage commenced in 1887 and was completed in 1890, under the direction of Mr. Charles Spadaccini, using the original design of Andrea Stombuco.  Prior to construction of the second stage the sanctuary of the old church was still in use.  It was demolished and some of the bricks were used as fill under the sanctuary floor of the Cathedral.

Further renovations were made in 1927-1928 under Bishop Barry.  During this restoration it was discovered that the old timber floor in the main body of the nave was in very poor condition due to moisture and ventilation problems.  The floor was replaced with a swung concrete floor and covered with wooden parquetry.  The aisles were covered with bitumen adhesive and rubber tiles in the 1957 renovation.    In the 1927-28 renovation the sanctuary floor was raised, the main altar and reredos were moved back to the eastern wall and the sanctuary was lined with marble.

Goulburn was raised to the status of an Archdiocese in 1948, thus making Archbishop Maguire the last Bishop of Goulburn and the first Archbishop of Canberra-Goulburn.  During the episcopate of Archbishop Eris O’Brien the Archbishop moved to Canberra and St. Christopher’s Cathedral at Manuka became the centre of the Archdiocese.  Sts. Peter and Paul’s Cathedral has been known as the Old Cathedral since that time.


People of Importance in the History of the Old Cathedral

Bishop Lanigan

Bishop William Lanigan was born in County Tipperary, Ireland, in 1820 and died in Goulburn on 13th June, 1900.  Bishop Lanigan is buried under the Old Cathedral Sanctuary. 

Bishop Lanigan was Parish Priest of Berrima in the Southern Highlands at the time of his appointment as Bishop of Goulburn.  His episcopate was from 1867 to 1900.  His greatest achievement is the building of Sts. Peter & Paul’s Cathedral.  Bishop Lanigan is possibly the only bishop to have been in office for the completion of such a large project.  He was very involved in all the details of the construction of the Cathedral.  Bishop Lanigan employed the Italian Architect, Andrea Stombuco, to design the Cathedral. 

Mr. Stombuco supervised the first stage of the Cathedral construction and appears to have worked well with Bishop Lanigan.  Mr. Charles Spadaccini worked on the second stage of the construction, still using Mr. Stombuco’s design.  From letters written to and from Mr. Spadaccini it would seem he and Bishop Lanigan did not get on very well.

Bishop Lanigan is also responsible for the basis of Catholic Education throughout the diocese.  He attracted many religious orders to his diocese.  He was a very energetic man who traveled incessantly through his very large diocese.

Andrea Stombuco

Andrea Stombuco came to Australia from Cape Town, in South Africa, where he was known as “Andrew Stumbuck”.  Little is known of his family background or from where in Italy he came.  Family tradition assumes he came from Florence.  He married Jane Miles in Cape Town and after coming to Australia they settled in Victoria where he designed and built a family home known as ‘Kyneton’.

Andrea Stombuco designed several buildings in Goulburn.  As well as the Cathedral he also designed the building at the corner of Verner and Bourke Streets now occupied by the Regional Conservatorium of Music.  He also designed the older buildings at St. Patrick’s College, now Trinity Catholic College.

The Stombuco family moved to Brisbane at the request of Bishop O’Quin and most of Andrea’s known architectural work is in and around Brisbane.  He designed Her Majesty’s Theatre in Brisbane.  One of his great achievements was the design and construction of his family home, “Palma Rosa”.  This house is still privately owned and has been restored to its original condition.  The house has three floors and it is recorded that there were as many as five grand pianos in the house.  His daughter, Marie, played the organ at the official opening of Sts. Peter & Paul’s Cathedral in 1890.

The Stombuco’s fell on hard times and had to sell their home.  Mrs. Stombuco became the postmistress at Eastern Plains in Queensland.  Andrea Stombuco went to Western Australia and died in Fremantle, where he is buried.

The Dalglish Family

Dr. James Dalglish is reported as having lent a man, of whom he knew very little, a large sum of money.  The man could not pay him back in cash but gave him a share certificate, which was not totally agreeable to the good doctor.  The certificate was an original share in Broken Hill Propriety and made the doctor a very rich man.

After his death, his widow became a very generous benefactor to the Cathedral.   Mrs. Dalglish paid for the organ and its installation, for the stained glass window in the eastern wall of the Cathedral, and for the marble additions to the altar in the 1927 renovations.  She later returned to London and remarried, where she continued her generosity to others.  Her name appears in many places in the Old Cathedral.  Her descendants are still living in the Goulburn district.

Bishop Gallagher

Bishop Gallagher succeeded Bishop Lanigan in 1900 and died in Goulburn in 1923.  He continued Bishop Lanigan’s work in consolidating Catholic Education in the diocese.  He founded the St. John’s Home for orphaned boys in Goulburn, which was run by the Sisters of Mercy.  Bishop Gallagher is buried in the Old Cathedral.






Bishop Barry

Bishop Barry was appointed to the Diocese in 1924.  He was a very capable administrator and gave support to the priests and people of the Diocese during the depression.  The 1927-28 renovations in the Cathedral were carried out during Bishop Barry’s episcopate.  Bishop Barry is also credited with founding the Holy Name Society for men throughout Australia.  Bishop Barry died in 1938 and it was his express wish to be buried in the chapel at St. Patrick’s cemetery.






Bishop McGuire

Bishop McGuire was the first Bishop of Townsville and was translated to the Diocese of Goulburn in 1938.  He was the first Australian born Bishop of the Diocese and the Federal Capital.

In 1948 the Diocese was raised in Rome to the status of an Archdiocese, thus making Bishop McGuire the last Bishop of Goulburn and the first Archbishop of the Diocese.  Archbishop McGuire retired due to ill health in 1953 and died in Lewisham Hospital in 1957.

Archbishop Eris O’Brien

Archbishop Eris O’Brien was appointed Archbishop in 1953.  Archbishop O’Brien was a very distinguished scholar and has numerous publications to his credit.  It was during the episcopate of Archbishop O’Brien that the Archdiocesen seat was moved to St. Christopher’s Cathedral, at Manuka, in the A.C.T. in 1962, and he became the last Archbishop to reside in Goulburn.