White Temple of Peace

We will remember them

Queensland’s premier Catholic WWI memorial church

Built as a peace offering to God after the horrors of World War I, Our Lady of Victories church was opened on April 26, 1925.

This monument would be a living speaking monument, because it was erected to the living God. (Apostolic delegate, Rev. Dr Cattaneo, 1919)

Four thousand people, including the acting premier, political, civic, military and church dignitaries, attended the laying of the foundation stone in August 1919 for a new memorial to be built as a peace offering to God. Our Lady of Victories Catholic Church in Bowen Hills, Brisbane – also known as the White Temple of Peace – is the premier memorial dedicated to all Queensland Catholic soldiers and sailors who died in WWI.

The first Parish Priest, Father Edward Sarsfield Barry – who spent several years serving as a chaplain on the Western Front – collected 1,824 names of fallen soldiers, sailors and nurses who had enlisted from Queensland to construct a unique honour roll, which is still in the church today.

You can see reminders throughout the church of its dedication such as special plaques on the Stations of the Cross, while the AIF symbol of the rising sun is incorporated into the design for the leadlight windows running both sides of the main body of the church.

It was one of the first church towers in Brisbane to be lit electrically, with the iconic blue cross as a perpetual tribute to the fallen servicemen and women.

Situated high on a spectacular site overlooking the Brisbane River near the CBD, the much-loved Spanish Mission style church, designed by Hall & Prentice, was officially opened by Archbishop Duhig and is enmeshed in Brisbane’s early and contemporary cultural history. The Church purchased the site from the Perry family, when their family home, Folkestone, burned down.

A day school was run by the Sisters of Mercy from 1922 and, later, by the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth until 1965.

A place of peace and refuge

In the mid 1950s, the parish was entrusted to the care of Polish priests to serve English-speaking parishioners as well as the large influx of Polish migrants following WWII. So began the relationship with the Australian Polish community.

Long serving Parish Priest Fr Stanislaus ‘Cassian’ Wolak, himself a survivor of Auschwitz and Dachau concentration camps, even hosted Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, later St John Paul II, at the presbytery when he visited the parish for several days in 1973.

Is your family name on our unique honour roll?

The parish is keen to connect families with this memorial of their loved ones.

1,824 Catholic sailors and soldiers, including 2 nurses, are named on 33 double-sided hand-painted panels.
If your relative died during the First World War, and they enlisted from Queensland, they are likely remembered here.

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