St. Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Church

There is so much to fall in love with about St Mary Star of the Sea, a much admired French Gothic Revival Catholic church.

The recently restored interior is of Italianate design, newly painted with soft pink hues that warm under the many magnificent stained glass windows. St Mary Star of the Sea features an ornate Victorian-crafted wood paneled ceiling adorned with vividly painted statues of angels. Renovations were recently completed and have amplified the elegance of the churches existing features, such as the marble columns and fine Fincham organ. The restoration, supervised by the National Trust, has included refurbishment of all interior, plaster, timber surfaces, stained glass, and brass fittings, and reinstatement of the beautiful and extensive nineteenth century stencilling, particularly above and below the gothic windows in the forward spaces of the church.

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St Mary’s is one of the the most popular churches for weddings in Melbourne and has seating for over 1200. St Mary Star of the Sea offers three service times on Saturday (12.30, 2.00, and 3.30pm) and two on Sunday (1.30 and 3.00pm) for weddings, and is often booked far in advance.

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St Mary Star of the Sea’s grounds also have a lovely garden, which surrounds a sandstone presbytery, which is blooming with flowers for much of the year. The grounds are also spacious enough for dramatic shots with the bridal party and cars.

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The land for St Mary’s Star of the Sea was first allocated in 1852, two acres at the high point over the port. This places it in the very early history of North Melbourne.  The original church was established from 1854, but despite later enlargement, was rebuilt as the current grand structure from 1892 following Edgar Henderson’s ambitious designs. His French Gothic features include rose windows, battered plinths and the soaring groined ceiling. The work was continued by Phillip Kennedy, who added an Italianate influence through the rose tinted walls, and lavish use of granite and marble. The building was opened, after only seven years of building, with much fanfare in 1900 but has gone through many changes in it’s 160 years, and is closely linked to Melbourne’s cultural history; St Mary Star of the Sea has served as the spiritual home of many different cultures, for instance serving Irish, Chinese, Italian, Maltese, Lithuanian and Vietnamese congregations throughout this period. The team of experts who have led the restoration in the last ten years have also had added features such as the angels in the ceiling niches, and the lower marble altar that were originally envisaged; and recovered the original brilliance of St Gabriel and St Micheal which overlook the high altar. The original delicate gold stencilling in the sanctuary which had been painted over in the 1950’s has been restored; the designs owe much to Eugene Viollet-le-Duc’s work at Notre Dame, and also Augustus Pugin’s designs at the Houses of Parliament at Westminster.

At Serendipity we appreciate the opportunity to photograph weddings at St Mary’s Star of the Sea, truly one of Melbourne’s most splendid churches, and recommend the Presbytery as the picturesque backdrop for family and romantic couple pictures. St Mary’s Star of the Sea is surrounded by Melbourne history — gorgeous bluestone facades, Victorian terraces and those desirable wrought iron fences, perfect backdrops for location photography. Minutes away trendy cafes cluster around the grand classical architecture of the North Melbourne Town Hall; St Mary’s Star of the Sea is literally on Melbourne’s city doorstep for more history and drama in your wedding album.

If you want to know more about St Mary Star of the Sea, visit their website

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