St. Patrick's Basilica, in Oamaru New Zealand. Oamaru, the largest town in North Otago, is approximately half way between Timaru and Dunedin. The Basilica is a mixed style Palladian and Renaissance building, designed by Francis Petre and built between 1893 and 1918. Francis Petre (27 August 1847 – 10 December 1918) was a prominent New Zealand-born architect based in Dunedin. He was an able exponent of the Gothic revival style, one of its best practitioners in New Zealand. He followed the Roman Church's initiative to build Catholic places of worship in Anglo-Saxon countries in Romance forms of architecture.
The inspiration and effort behind the building of St Patrick's came from Father John Mackay, who became Parish Priest in Oamaru in March 1890. He wished to build a Church that would suit the needs of his congregation and began fundraising. Architect Francis Petre, who had already supervised the design of several buildings for the Catholic Church in Dunedin, was commissioned to put Mackay's ideas into a practical design. The foundation stone was laid on Trinity Sunday 1893, by Bishop Moran.
The successful tender for the construction of the church had been made by D.W. Woods: £3,460 exclusive of the sanctuary and dome. The laying of the stone coincided with the silver jubilee of ordination of Father (later Monsignor) John Mackay, who was parish priest of Oamaru for 36 years (1890-1926). The Basilica was opened on 18 November 1894 by Bishop Grimes of Christchurch. It was finally completed in 1918. Two days after the official opening Architect Petre died. The Basilica became the centre of the Catholic community in Oamaru. The surrounding buildings included the presbytery, St Josephs Church School and the Rosary Convent.
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