5 things you may have not noticed in Sacred Heart Cathedral

Sacred Heart Cathedral in Hamilton NSW is a welcoming place of worship, which acts as both the Hamilton Parish church, and the Cathedral for the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle. Both inside and outside the Cathedral, there are beautiful details in the design that are worth the time to stop, notice and contemplate.

Below is a snapshot of what you can find, amongst the tree-lined building located on the edge of the Newcastle central business district.

  1. In the grounds of the Cathedral, you may have noticed a dome. However, have you read the inscription? The original dome, made of concrete, was severely damaged in the 1989 earthquake. It is now located in the grounds of the Cathedral as a memorial to quake victims and has been replaced by a new copper dome. The stone at the base of the dome contains the names of the 13 people that died, and stands in tribute to the many people who suffered personal grief and hardship and those who worked to relieve that suffering.

2. As you walk around the outside of the Cathedral, look up at the bronze crosses on the tower and the baptistery. These crosses were originally meant to match, but Michael Sternbeck in With Hearts and Hands and Voices tells the story: These crosses were made by a prominent Newcastle Communist known as "Red Arthur". A coppersmith by trade, Arthur was highly regarded for his expertise. His family background was Catholic and his mother was fervent in her faith. A firm friendship existed between Arthur and Fr Victor Peters; two men diametrically opposed in their concept of religion, yet sharing a common ground in their love of others. A bargain was struck between them. Arthur proposed that he would charge for the cross on the belltower but would donate the baptistery cross which would stand as a remembrance of his mother. Fr Peters agreed to this request. Observation reveals that the baptistery is crowned by an ornate cross which stands as a tribute to a son's love and a priest's compassion.


3. Inside the Cathedral, have you noticed the floor of the sanctuary? The floor of the sanctuary is finished in Venetian Mosaic tiles, surrounded with white marble. The predella (platform on which an altar is placed), has marble margins and steps, but has polished Western Australian jarrah and oak parquetry in the centre. Alarms are set each day in the Cathedral to stop visitors walking into the sanctuary (signs clearly mark where the alarmed area begins), so view this beautiful floor from the chapel on the right.

4.On the right side of the altar, there is a special shrine to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour. This used to be a nun’s chapel. The chapel contains two writing desks where people can sit and write petitions and thanksgivings. Each Saturday at 10 am, a Novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour is prayed in the Cathedral. This Novena began in the Diocese in 1948 at the Redemptorist Monastery at Mayfield and moved to the Cathedral when the Monastery closed in 2003.


  1. The fourteen Stations of the Cross that hang on the walls are beautifully coloured and are beautifully detailed. Reflecting at each of these stations is a way to imagine yourself in the scene, watching Jesus go through his passion. Look out for the Station that has a Roman holding the inscription In Latin, it stands for Senātus Populusque Rōmānus, which translates to The Senate and People of Rome in English. This inscription still appears today in dedications of monuments and public works in Rome.


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Brooke Robinson Image
Brooke Robinson

Brooke is Content Officer for the Communications Team in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle