St. Francis Xavier Cathedral, Geraldton, Western Australia.

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St. Francis Xavier Cathedral, Geraldton, Western Australia.


Anglican priest, architect, architecture, Bahamas, Beda College, Bishop William Bernard Kelly, Cat Island, church, Catholic, Catholicism, Catholic church, clergy, Geraldton, Geraldton diocese, missionary, Monsignor John Cyril Hawes, outback, priest, Romanesque style, Spanish mission style, stone, Western Australia, Western Australian outback


St Francis Xavier Church in Geraldton, Western Australia, designed by Monsignor John Cyril Hawes, has a mixture of Romanesque and Spanish mission style architecture. The first stone was laid in 1916, but the cathedral was not completed until 1938.

About Monsignor John Cyril Hawes (1876-1956):

John Cyril Hawes was born in Surrey in 1876 and trained as an architect before being ordained as an Anglican priest in 1903. He converted to Roman Catholicism in 1911 and entered Beda College in Rome in 1913. Two years later, he was ordained as a Catholic priest. While in Rome, Hawes met Bishop William Bernard Kelly from Western Australia and was recruited by him to the Geraldton diocese as a missionary. He was also commissioned to build a Cathedral. Hawes arrived in Geraldton in November 1915 and work began on the Cathedral in June 1916. The nave opened for services in 1918, but a lack of funds stalled completion of the cathedral until 1938. Hawes received the papal title of ‘monsignor’ in 1937. In 1939, he returned to the Bahamas, where he had worked to repair churches damaged by a hurricane before converting to Catholicism. He built a hermitage on Cat Island, but was sought out to design churches and supervise building on Cat Island, Long Island, and in Nassau.

During his time in Western Australia, Hawes built a number of other, largely Romanesque style, churches in the WA outback. These include the parish church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Mullawa (1927), and churches at Morawa (1932), Carnarvon (1934), Northampton and the Utakarra cemetery chapel (1935), and Perenjori (1936), and chapels at Yalgoo, Bluff Point, Nanson and the Melangatta homestead.

For more information on Monsignor John Cyril Hawes, see A. G. Evans, 'Hawes, John Cyril (1876-1956)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, Melbourne University Press, 1983, pp.229-230; John J. Taylor, Between Devotion and Design: The Architecture of John Cyril Hawes 1876-1956, (University of Western Australia Press, Perth, 2001).


Bunch, Aaron


National Library of Australia


National Library of Australia; Picture Australia




National Library of Australia

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