Buried in the City – The Most Reverend Francis Murphy
The first Catholic Bishop of Adelaide, Francis Murphy was born in Navan, County Meath, Ireland on the 20th of May 1795, the eldest son of Arthur and Bridget Murphy, who worked as brewers and distillers.
Francis was educated at St Finians College in Navan and then St Patricks College in Maynooth. In 1824, Francis was ordained as a Deacon, and in the following year a priest.
Francis Murphy moved to Sydney Australia in July 1838 and only two years later was appointed the Vicar-General of the Diocese after the sitting Bishop, John Polding, left for a trip to Europe.
The growing state of South Australia, and particularly Adelaide city and Kapunda, which already had small Catholic populations, were seen to be the next area for the Australian Catholic Church to spread the word of God and because of this, Pope Gregory XVI looked to Murphy to head his new see in Adelaide.
Francis Murphy was ordained as the first Bishop of Adelaide at St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney in September 1844. This made Francis Murphy the first Bishop ordained on Australian soil. A month later he moved to Adelaide with an assistant priest and two school teachers, but he had no Church, Presbytery or Diocese awaiting him.
The Adelaide Catholic Community, and Bishop Murphy received a blessing from a benefactor in England, who gave 2000 pounds to the Adelaide See to use at the Bishop saw fit. This money was used to build three new churches and pay for another priest. Some of the money was later used for Bishop Murphy to travel to Europe and return with two more priests to serve the Adelaide See.
Whilst in Europe, Bishop Murphy also visited Charles Hansom to draw up plans for a Cathedral to built in Adelaide. The foundation stone for this future Cathedral was laid on 17th of March 1856 and was named in honour of Saint Francis Xavier.
In 1857 Francis Murphy wrote a report, which would be his last, to Rome, in which it was stated that so far “‘Twelve churches and six chapels have been built in the diocese, and two others are being built as well as a magnificent cathedral’.
Bishop Murphy traveled to Tasmania in late 1857 to help settle a dispute between priests there. While in Tasmania Bishop Murphy contracted a severe cold which turned in tuberculous. He died at Adelaide on the 26th of April 1858 and was interred in the still incomplete Saint Francis Xavier Cathedral at 39 Wakefield street, Adelaide.
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