Religious Communities

Religious Communities throughout the Parish’s history

  • Marist Fathers
  • Patrician Fathers
  • De La Salle Brothers
  • Ursuline Sisters

The Provenance of the Statues and some paintings in the Ursuline Chapel and Convent, Armidale


  1. c1889- St Ursula, in niche above entrance to new College
  2. c1888 -Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception – donated by Rev Dean O’Connor
  3. c1888 -St Joseph- donated by Canon Paasch ofDuderstadt
  4. September, 1893- St Peter, representing ‘faith’} hand- carved m wood from Munich
  5. St John, representing ‘charity’} for Mother Bernard’s feast day
  6. January, 1896- St Augustine, hand-carved in wood from Munich
  7. St Charles, hand- carved in wood from Munich, donated by Dean O’Connor
  8. c1896- Sacred Heart, hand-carved in wood from Munich
  9. Statue of the Holy Family- date and provenance unknown. Held in foyer of Convent which was known as The Ursuline Convent of the Holy Family
  10. Statue of St Anthony of Padua, outside Chapel, provenance unknown. The High Altar of the original Chapel was dedicated to St Anthony of Padua c1886

Paintings in choir gallery of Chapel

  • St Francis of Assisi, painted by Rev Otto Von Hagen, Brother of Sr Hildegarde, pioneer
  • St Angela Merici, painted by German artist Herr Eltermann, donated by friends in Germany
  • The Crucifixion, painted by Rev Otto Von Hagen

From the Annals of the Ursuline Convent, Armidale

On the 6th October, 1885, five young postulants arrived from the ‘Isle of Saints’, a much needed re-inforcement to our small and overworked Community. Dean O’Connor’s aunt, dear Sister M. Francis (a Presentation Nun) had kindly undertaken to find a few generous souls for the Armidale Mission; may God reward her for her zeal; He alone knows with what charity she undertook the task! They were clothed with the Holy Habit of Religion and white veil of Novices on 12th January, 1886, with great solemnities, from the hands of His Eminence, Cardinal Moran, who had been invited by our good Bishop Torreggiani to perform the opening Ceremony of our new Chapel, under the title of ‘Our Lady of the Angels’, and to consecrate the High Altar in honour of St. Anthony of Padua, and the Choir Bell was christened after St. Michael (Annals Page 23)

A fine, life-sized statue of St. Ursula was placed in a niche above the principal entrance to the new College, trusting that our great Patroness will obtain for us, her spirit of zeal to work, and her generosity to suffer, if need be, for the children confided to our care. About this time, too, our new Chapel was graced by a lovely Statue, life size, of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, presented by the Very Reverend Dean O’Connor; and by another of St. Joseph, the gift of our former Superior at Duderstadt – Canon Paasch. (Annals Page 27)

Our little Chapel was also enriched by two splendid Oil-paintings; one is an allegorical representation of St. Francis of Assisi, treading the world under foot, and in return, receiving the loving embrace of Christ: the other represents our Holy Mother, St. Angela Merici, who when inconsolable over the death of her Sister, was vouchsafed a heavenly vision for her comfort. Whilst in prayer for her Sister’s eternal happiness, Angela beheld the heavens opened and her loved sister in the midst of a group of angelic spirits who surrounded the Queen of Heaven. The Chronicles tell us that she distinctly heard the words: “Angela, if you persevere in the path you are already treading, you will one day, share our happiness.” The former of these two oil paintings (St. Francis) is the work of Reverend Otto von Hagen, an artist of no mean ability; he presented it to his sister, M. M. Hildegarde. The latter picture (St. Angela) was painted by a German Artist, Herr Eltermann, and presented to us by friends at home.

It is no chance or accident that these two representations adorn the walls of our dear little Chapel, for these two Saints have a close relationship, and our beloved Father and Founder, Dr. Torreggiani, himself a Son of the Seraphic St. Francis, is always so proud of adding the distinguishing letters, O.S.F.C. (Order of St. Francis, Capuchin) after his name. The Chapel itself, as we said before, is consecrated under the title of Our Lady of the Angels, which is the title of the little Chapel at Assisi in which the Seraphic Saint was wont to pour out his soul in burning love and in which he received that wonderful Stigmata. Our High Altar is consecrated to St. Anthony of Padua, one of the glorious sons of St. Francis. (Annals Page 27)

September, 1893, also brought us two new life size Statues for our Chapel, St Peter and St. ‘John; the former as a representation of “Faith”, the latter of “Charity”. Our loved Foundress, M. M. Bernard, had often expressed the wish to have these two great Saints represented in our Chapel, symbolical of those two divine virtues which should particularly distinguish Ursulines, “Faith” and “Charity”. We decided to give her this surprise for her Feast Day on the 20th August, and, although they arrived from Munich one month later only, still all who saw them, were in admiration of the fine workmanship, (for they are hand-carved in wood) and agreed that they were well worth waiting for. (Annals Page 30)

And now, we will pass on to January 1896, ……..

Two new statues, St. Augustine and St. Charles, were ordered from Munich, to add to the adornment of our already pretty and devotional Chapel Sanctuary. They arrived in first class condition, and were erected on pedestals over the Altar. The Chapel has been newly painted and decorated; skylights inserted over the Sanctuary, and it was admired by all who saw it. Our good Dean O’Connor said one thing was wanting to make it complete – a Statue of the Sacred Heart, as centre piece over the Tabernacle, and, with his proverbial generosity, he asked us to order it and he would pay for it. May the Sacred Heart of Jesus whom he so much loved and honoured hear our prayers and grant our petitions for our kind benefactor, the Dean.

Reverend Otto von Hagen, (M. M. Hildegarde’s brother) is another ecclesiastic to whom the Community owes a big debt of gratitude. His generosity in painting for us and sending out to us from Germany to Australia, several large pictures, must never be forgotten. The large one of the Crucifixion that hangs over the Sanctuary is not only a most suitable adornment to the Chapel itself, but inspires devotion in all who see it. (Annals Page 30, 31)


The Ursuline Convent Chapel, Our Lady of the Angels, c1896, when seven statues had been placed around the altar. The statues had been acquired over the previous years.


Details about the new Ursuline Chapel (1929- 1930)

  1. Marble statues of our Lady and St Joseph, arrived from Italy 25th November; from the chisel of Bottozzi of Pietra Santa, near Carrara. Statue of Our Lady donated by Bishop Coleman.
  2. Statue of St Joseph donated by Mr Timothy Haren, in memory of his daughter Mary, former pupil.
  3. Two side marble altars, donated by Bishop O’Connor.
  4. Sanctuary lamp of coloured alabaster, in form of angel holding a flaming torch, donated by Mesdames Watson and F. Murphy
  5. Two marble pedestals, donated by Mrs C.Ramsay and Mr P.Higgins
  6. Stations of the Cross, donated by Hegerty family, family of Mother Clare . The stations are hand-painted porcelain, and very valuable.
  7. A magnificent Monstrance, donated by the Hegerty family. It is in the sacristy.
  8. Stained Glass windows bear the names of the donors; those in the Sanctuary, donated by St Ursula’s boarders, are of Birmingham glass, while those on the side wall are of Bavarian make.
  9. Main marble altar, imported from Carrara, and put together by Mr Edstein ofRaymond Terrace. Pilasters of Siena marble are on the face of the altar. Below the altar is an exquisitely sculptured panel, representing Leonardo da Vinci’s “Last Supper”, the work of Cas a Grande of Quecerta. The altar was donated by Mrs K. Fitzgerald of Kunderang Station and her family, the family of Mother M.Laurence Fitzgerald.
  10. Domed ceiling, panelled in unpolished Japanese oak.
  11. Parquetry floor, made from Australian woods – oak and jarrah.
  12. Stalls in two tiers, made from English oak, as is the panelling of the walls. Chapel stalls donated by Mrs Nolan and her mother, Mrs Hegerty.
  13. Window of Christ the King, donated by Miss A. Hegerty.
  14. Bronze tabernacle door and large brass and bronze Crucifix, donated by Ellie McGlade, ex-pupil.

These details come from the following account found in the Annals of the Ursuline Convent, 1929-1930:

The Ursuline Chapel, Armidale From the Annals


All during the year our new Chapel had been rising aloft, and on the Feast of St. Augustine, it was decided to occupy it, in its yet unfinished state, as a temporary altar was erected in the main aisle. So we chanted the Divine Office in honour of our Holy Father St. Augustine, and we prayed from our hearts, that all those, who, in succeeding generations, would gather within those sacred precincts might together with us, “sing the praises and the mercies of the Lord forever.”

The beautiful marble statues of Our Lady and St. Joseph arrived from Italy on November 25th, and were in the destined places in the Chapel by November 27th. They are from the chisel of Bottozzi of Pietra Santa, near Carrara. The statue of Our Lady was donated by His Lordship, Bishop Coleman, while that of St. Joseph was the gift of Mr. Timothy Haren, in memory of his daughter Mary, our former pupil. These statues surmount the two side marble altars, the gift of our beloved Bishop O’Connor. Other presentation gifts arrived in due course, including a unique sanctuary lamp of coloured alabaster, in the form of an angel holding a flaming torch, the lamp being the joint donation of Mesdames Watson and F. Murphy. Two marble pedestals were the gifts of Mrs. C. Ramsay and Mr. P. Higgins. The large Stations of the Cross were the donation of the Hegerty Family- the family of our dear Mother M. Clare. The Stations are hand-painted porcelain, and are a very valuable possession. The Hegerty Family also presented us with a magnificent Monstrance. The stained glass windows bear the names of their kind donors: those in the Sanctuary are of Birmingham glass, while those on the side wall are of Bavarian make. The St. Ursula’s Boarders donated three of the Sanctuary Windows, as by means of a large Fete, they had gathered in the sum of 300 pounds.

Our beloved Bishop O’Connor watched with pride, the setting in place of every new adornment to the House of God, and great was his joy when the beautiful marble altar placed the seal on the Sanctuary. This altar was put together during the month of November by Mr. Edstein, of Raymond Terrace, who had imported it from Carrara, Italy. On four buff-coloured columns of Siena marble rests an arched canopy and a dome of white marble; and pilasters of Siena marble appear on the face of the altar, supporting semi-circular arches. Beneath the altar is an exquisitely sculptured panel, representing Leonardo da Vinci’s “Last Supper”, the work of Casa Grande of Quecerta. It is opportune here to quote a passage which appeared, unknown to us, in a Sydney paper after a visit paid to our Convent by Elioth Gruner, a noted Australian artist.

“Elioth Gruner is still murmuring compliments to the cherry-and apple blossom in the orchards of Armidale. He and his secretary discovered one of New England’s art treasures, the altar piece in the chapel of the Ursuline Convent. It is of Italian marble, and was a gift from the district’s well-known Fitzgerald family.” Thus spoke the Sydney newspaper.

The altar was presented to us by Mrs. K. Fitzgerald of Kunderang Station and her family, the mother and family of our dear Mother M. Laurence Fitzgerald. It was destined as a memorial to the late Mr. Joseph Fitzgerald, Mother Laurence’s father (R.I.P.) and, as was fitting, the first Mass celebrated on the altar was a Mass of Requiem for the repose of Mr. Fitzgerald’s soul. Mrs. K. Fitzgerald was present, as also different relatives and members of the family, and it was a touching sight to see all approach the altar rails and receive the Lord of Lords in the Eucharistic Feast. This first Mass on the new altar was celebrated on November 11th, 1929.


Our new Chapel in Armidale was blessed and opened on February 9th by our beloved Bishop O’Connor, assisted by Bishop Gleeson of Maitland, and the Right Reverend Monsignor Tobin P.P., V.G. of Glen Innes.

A large gathering of townsfolk was present, including the Mayor and other prominent citizens. The approximate cost of the Chapel was 11,600 pounds. A public subscription was taken up, prior to the solemn opening; Bishop O’Connor opened the list with 100 pounds and Dr. Coleman, the new Coadjutor Bishop followed with a 30 pounds donation. Our venerable Bishop made a touching address regarding the significance of our new House of God; his remarks were supported by Bishop Gleeson, Coadjutor Bishop of Maitland and by our old and very valued friend, Very Reverend Monsignor Tobin.

The Chapel is Romanesque in form and dignified in appearance. It presents a well proportioned front with porch and semi-circular arch. Tall piers divide the front in three, and suggest a nave and aisles. The emphasised corbel-table in cream bricks, following the raking of the roof, is an interesting feature of the building. Into the walls a geometrical fret has been worked, and it presents a striking appearance at one level with a moulding of cream bricks above and below. Handsome red tiles cover the roof exteriorly. On entering the Chapel, one is impressed by the beauty of the domed ceiling, which is panelled in unpolished Japanese oak. The parquetry floor is comprised of Australian woods- oak and jarrah- arranged in a handsome pattern, with a border design. The stalls, of which there are two tiers, are of English oak, as is the panelling of the walls. The floor of the sanctuary tones with the walls and altar and is of ceramic tiles with marble finish. The fittings of the electric lamps are of bronze throughout. A bronze and burnished tabernacle door, studded with crystals is a distinctive feature of the marble altar, described in the 1929 records; and with this bronze door, the large crucifix of brass and bronze, donated by our old pupil Ellie McGlade, makes an harmonious finish. Mrs. Nolan and her mother, Mrs. Hegerty, donated the Chapel stalls, and Miss A. Hegerty the window of Christ the King.

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