|St Mary's Cathedral is the largest Roman Catholic church in Australia (and reputedly the Southern Hemisphere). It is the seat of Australia's only resident Cardinal, George Pell (Cardinal Cassidy being nonresident), and holds the title and dignity of a Minor Basilica, which were bestowed upon it by Pope Pius XI in 1930.|
The present St Mary's is the second church of that name to occupy the site abutting College Street, Sydney. The foundation stone for the first building was laid by New South Wales Governor Lachlan Macquarie and blessed by the colony's Catholic chaplain, Father Therry, on 3 May, 1821. The building was built of stone in a naive Gothic style, modified in 1851 in line with designs by A W N Pugin, and was destroyed by fire on 29 June, 1865.
The foundation stone for a new building, designed in Gothic-revival style by William Wilkinson Wardell was laid by Archbishop Polding in 1868. St Mary's was declared complete in 1928, and Archbishop Michael Kelly opened the building on 2 September of that year. However, due to a lack of funds the spires designed by Wardell for the cathedral's two main towers were not constructed until 2000 - 132 years after work first began on the building. With the completion of the spires, which are 74.6 metres in height St Mary's became the second-tallest church in Australia, after St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne.
In 1999 a new pipe organ was built in the west trancept to augment the liturgy's music. There are two main choral groups that perform music at the catherdral. The St. Mary's Cathedral Choir (Directed by David Russell) an the St. Mary's Singers (Directed by Elizabeth Swain). The Choir operates every sunday of the year except January at solemn high mass.