Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese REPORT
24 Jan 2012

Historic tours of the Cathedral and its treasures
will be part of the Australia Day Program
An exhibition of 50 sacred liturgical vestments will be part of this year's Australia Day celebrations at St Mary's Cathedral. Also on the program will be performances of favourite arias and duets by four of Australia's young opera stars as well as recitals by renowned organist, Oliver Brett.
Children will be entertained with interactive story readings and face painting and there will be historical tours, trips to the bell tower and performances by St Mary's famous bellringers.
There will also be a breathtaking display of flowers and at the noon Mass a blessing for all Australians.
As happened last year, St Mary's Cathedral has pulled out all the stops to become one of the focal points of the city's Australia Day celebrations. The program created for Australia's national day is designed to appeal to everyone from music lovers to history buffs. No matter what your age, walk of life or even whether you are Catholic or non Catholic, there will be something for you and your family to enjoy.

Pre Vatican II Vestments were
far more elaborate
Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell often says St Mary's Cathedral belongs to all Sydney adding that it has long been his ambition to open the Cathedral and its treasures to the public on Australia Day as well as on other important city celebrations throughout the year.
With the Cathedral's history closely paralleling that of the city and the colonisation of Australia, the 20 minute historic tours provide fascinating insights while the exhibition in the Crypt which will open on Australia Day morning and be on display over the next seven days, will provide an intriguing look at post Vatican II liturgical vestments.
"In our exhibition last year we put pre-Vatican II vestments on display but this year we decided to show vestments dating from 1962, which marked the opening of the second Vatican Council," says Cathedral Sacristan, Chris Backhouse who organised this year's as well as last year's exhibitions.
"As a result of Vatican II there was a transitional period in liturgical vestments and by the late 1960s they had very little ornamentation and were very austere. This was how 'noble simplicity' was first interpreted but thankfully this hessian and cheesecloth era finally began to change in the 1990s," he says, pointing out that while simplicity remained the fabrics used once again became important.
"The ornamentation of pre Vatican II was gone and the slippers and gloves from that time were also no longer worn by bishops and clergy. Vestments retained a simplicity of style but beautiful fabrics began to play a role once more," he says adding that with the election of Pope Benedict XVI vestments became more ornate with the use of wonderful silks and rich brocades," he says.

Mezzo soprano Lauren Fagan
will be part of the opera recitals
at the cathedral
The Sacristan's personal favourites at the exhibition include three pieces from an 18 piece Pontifical High Mass set of liturgical vestment of Russian silk which were made for Cardinal Pell in 2006.
Another favourite are the liturgical vestments used on Good Friday by His Eminence and created in black and red silk.
Many of those on display are made here in Australia. But there are also vestments donated to the Cathedral by Popes Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI during their visits to Australia.
In addition there are examples of liturgical vestments from other countries such as New Guinea, South America, India, Indonesia and the Philippines.
For visitors to the exhibition other Cathedral treasures will also be on display including the Nicola Cerrone-designed silver chalice, paten (communion plate) and ciborium which are enriched with gold motifs and precious stones and were blessed by His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI.
The exhibition in the Crypt will open at 9.30 am on Australia Day - the same time the first tour of the bell tower will begin. Bell ringing will begin at 10.10 until 10.30 with the first organ recital by Oliver Brett, Assistant Music Director at the Cathedral and Director of the St Mary's Singers beginning at 10.30.

Fascinating exhibition of sacred liturgical
vestments from 1960-2000
Among the selections he will play in the morning and again at a recital from 2.30 to 3 pm will be Walton's Coronation March "Orb and Sceptre" and Vierne's Final from Symphony No. 1.
Each organ recital will be followed by a performance of opera favourites by mezzo soprano, Lauren Fagan, baritone Thomas Strong, soprano Phoebe Humphreys and tenor Claudio Sgaramella. The singers will be accompanied by Thomas Wilson, Director of Music at the Cathedral and will give another performance in the afternoon from 3 until 3.30 pm.
Face painting and story telling for children will continue throughout the day which will also offer Sydneysiders the chance to join one of three tours of the Cathedral's famous bell tower and an opportunity to join one of the three historic tours of St Mary's and its treasures. For belltower or historic tours, bookings are advised.
To find out more contact the Cathedral on 02 9220 0400 or log on to

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