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Journeying Through Time: Bishop James Alipius Goold (1812-1886)

Portrait of Bishop James Alipius Goold, c.1850-5, oil on canvas. Photograph of painting taken by Nicholas Quin, 2017.


This painting of the then Bishop James Alipius Goold (1812-1886), which belongs to the Institute, is the earliest known portrait of this former Bishop who invited the Sisters of Mercy to Melbourne.


The painting depicts Goold, c.1850-5. In his hand, Goold holds a letter with the Papal seal visible on it, possibly the letter of episcopal appointment from Pope Pius IX. In the background is St. Patrick’s College, East Melbourne. Perhaps this was considered to be Goold’s greatest achievement to date.


Currently, the painting is being used as the icon of the project “A Baroque Archbishop in Colonial Australia: James Goold 1812-1886”. This is a joint project of the University of Melbourne and the University of Divinity and is being funded by an Australian Research Grant. The project will conduct original research, of international significance, into Goold as ‘cultural patron’ of the diocese of Melbourne, especially in his artwork, his library and the commissioning of William Wardell as architect of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.


Goold was the first Catholic Bishop of Melbourne. He was born in Ireland and entered the Augustinian order. After studying divinity in Italy, he returned to Ireland, and volunteered for missionary services in New South Wales, arriving in Sydney in 1838.


Goold was appointed Bishop of Melbourne on 9 July 1847, and was consecrated on 6 August 1848.


In 1857, the Sisters of Mercy arrived in Melbourne on the invitation of Bishop Goold. Their current convent in Fitzroy still occupies part of the original cottage ‘given’ (with a large mortgage) by Goold to the Sisters.


The fact that Bishop Goold’s painting is in the possession of the Sisters, along with other items that belonged to him, signifies the close relationship between Goold and the Sisters of Mercy.


Other items belonging to Goold in the Mercy collections include an ivory sepulchre, chalices and a clock.


Chalice. Gift of Archbishop Goold to the Sisters at Fitzroy. It was given by Pope Pius IX to the Archbishop in 1873.



Striking Clock. Gift of Goold to the Sisters at Fitzroy.



Sepulchre, Ivory. Left to the Sisters of Mercy by Archbishop Goold.