Cathe­dral seeks miss­ing halo

Midwest Times - - FRONT PAGE - El­lie Honey­bone

St Francis Xavier’s Cathe­dral in Ger­ald­ton is hid­ing a few In­di­ana Jones-style mys­ter­ies Fa­ther Robert Cross is hop­ing may be solved in the com­ing weeks.

At some point in the past 10 years, a halo from the head of the statue of St Peter has been stolen or mis­placed.

In prepa­ra­tion for the cathe­dral’s up­com­ing $3 mil­lion in­te­rior makeover, Fa­ther Cross is ask­ing the com­mu­nity to help find the miss­ing arte­fact.

“Some­times things can be ac­ci­den­tally thrown away or some­one might have picked the halo up and not known what it was,” he said.

“We are hop­ing that it might be still out there, wait­ing to be re­turned to the head of the statue.

“Any­body who has any in­for­ma­tion is en­cour­aged to come for­ward.”

Fa­ther Cross be­lieves the halo is about 25cm in di­am­e­ter and made of a brass or tin-like ma­te­rial and has a dec­o­ra­tive bor­der. An­other mys­tery sur­round­ing the Ger­ald­ton Cathe­dral in­volves the lo­ca­tion of its first bishop, Wil­liam Bernard Kelly.

Bishop Kelly was buried be­neath the cathe­dral in 1921 but at that time only the front sec­tion had been com­pleted.

Fa­ther Cross be­lieves some time in the late 1930s, Bishop Kelly’s re­mains were re­lo­cated to make way for fur­ther ex­pan­sion of the build­ing but no writ­ten record of the new lo­ca­tion has been kept.

A trained ar­chae­ol­o­gist, Fa­ther Cross hopes dur­ing the up­com­ing ren­o­va­tions he will find clues lead­ing to the where­abouts of Bishop Kelly.

“We will be tak­ing up the con­crete floor to put a new sur­face down and hope to find a grave cut or mark­ings in the soil,” he said.

“I have ex­humed seven bish­ops in my time — six in Perth and one in France.

“We know where Bishop Kelly was buried ini­tially so I plan to fos­sick around in that area and bring in ex­tra help if nec­es­sary.”

Fa­ther Cross has been in con­tact with a foren­sic scientist at the Univer­sity of WA and will bring in a ground-pen­e­trat­ing radar if Bishop Kelly can­not be found.

“Once we find the bishop we hope to put a glass panel in the new floor above his tomb and light it up,” he said. “This will add to the cathe­dral’s in­te­rior and also pro­vide us with a way to re­spect the mem­ory of Bishop Kelly.”

Fa­ther Robert Cross of the Ger­ald­ton Dio­cese is ap­peal­ing for the safe re­turn of St Peter's miss­ing halo. Pic­ture: El­lie Honey­bone

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