Island continent of the southern hemisphere and self-governing federal state of the British Empire. Originally a penal settlement during the Orange reign of terror in Ireland towards the end of the 18th century, many Catholic Irish and subsequently many prominent political offenders were deported to the convict establishment at Botany Bay. Among the first convicts were three Catholic priests, but they were not allowed to exercise their ministry. In 1803 Father Dixon was conditionally emancipated and celebrated the first official Mass in Sydney; his privileges were rescinded in the following year. Catholics received no further ministrations but were forced to attend Protestant services. In 1817 Father Jeremiah O’Flynn, appointed Prefect Apostolic of New Holland, was arrested soon after landing in Australia and deported. This action brought matters to the notice of the British authorities and in 1821 Fathers John J. Therry and Philip Conolly were appointed chaplains; but they were hampered by numerous restrictions. In 1833 the Benedictine Father William Ullathorne (afterwards Bishop of Birmingham, England) was appointed vicar-general of Australia, and in 1834 the mainland, Tasmania, and adjacent islands were formed into the Vicariate Apostolic of New Holland, with John B. Polding, a Benedictine, as first bishop. The Church Act, passed in 1836, was Australia’s first charter of religious liberty, and thenceforth the Catholic population increased rapidly, necessitating the erection of numerous dioceses. In 1882 education was secularized and state aid withdrawn from denominational schools; Catholic primary schools, however, proved self-supporting. Patrick F. Moran was created Australia’s first cardinal in 1885, and in 1914 an Apostolic delegate was appointed. In September 1928, the International Eucharistic Congress was held in Sydney, Australia.

MLA Citation

  • “Australia“. CatholicSaints.Info. 2 January 2020. Web. 24 June 2021. <>