Art inside St Ildephonsus Chapel, New Norcia

Graeme  Hyde

Ulverstone, Australia

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This religious art is the domed ceiling in the chapel in St Ildephonsus College – one of the schools that are part of the Benedictine Monastery at New Norcia in Western Australia.
(————————- 2416 viewings at 23 May 2017 -—————-)
In 1835 the government of Spain dissolved all religious communities in the country. Some of the exiled Benedictine monks applied for foreign missions and were attached to the newly appointed Bishop of Perth. In January 1846, they arrived in Fremantle and in February of that same year set out towards a farmhouse which was located 130 km north of Perth. Shortly after their arrival in the area they established their mission to the local Aborigines beside a spring about 8 km north of the present site of New Norcia.

The early settlement was fraught with disasters. The order ran out of money, the Aborigines ransacked the settlement and there seemed to be very little success in converting the locals to Christianity.

In 1847 the settlement was moved to the banks of the Moore River and named New Norcia after Norcia, Italy, the birthplace of the order’s founder, St Benedict. Slowly relations between the missionaries and the local Aborigines improved and the Aborigines set up camp in the area of the mission.

By 1848 the mission had more than 1000 acres of land and both sheep and cattle were being grazed. The mission grew in importance in the 1860s and 1870s as the monks became established. In 1867 it became an Abbey and the remarkable Dom Rosendo Salvado, who by this time had learnt the language of the local Aborigines and was writing important anthropological pieces about the language and culture of the indigenous inhabitants, was appointed Abbot.

The great change in the mission occurred around the turn of the century when Dom Rosendo Salvado retired to be replaced by Dom Fulgentius Torres who, with a degree in Science from the University of Barcelona, was responsible for much of the design and supervision of the new buildings.

It was Torres who decided that a proper monastic enclosure was needed, that St Gertrude’s College should be built – it was completed in 1908, that St Ildephonsus’ College should be established – it was opened in 1913.

Featured by “Religious Art & Photography”, “Where on Earth is This?”, “Christian Churches, Statues & Crosses” and “Postcards – Destinations”

EQUAL WINNER of challenge in “Western Australia”

“Top 10” in challenge in “Christian Churches, Statues & Crosses” & “Religious Art & Photography”

Camera: Lumix DMC-FZ7

Artwork Comments

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