Hobart's bishop to come home after 140 years

One of Australia's first Catholic bishops is to be exhumed from his tomb under an English cathedral and reburied in Hobart.

CLICK HEREThe Age reports that the ramains of Bishop Robert Willson, a campaigner from the 19th century who fought against the ill-treatment of convicts, is returning to Australia, 140 years after his death.

It says Nottingham Cathedral has agreed to a request from its Hobart counterpart to allow the body of Bishop Robert Willson to be exhumed and flown to Australia once a final resting place is ready in 2007 or 2008.

Bishop Willson was one of the Victorian age's most colourful and socially progressive clerics. He was one of the main campaigners for better conditions for convicts transported to Australia and it was partly because of his efforts that transportation to Tasmania was discontinued in 1853.

He built what became Nottingham's Catholic cathedral, St Barnabas, before he was appointed as Australia's second Catholic bishop. He was so popular in Nottingham, even the city's Protestant civic leaders petitioned the Pope in an attempt to keep him. One of his last acts in England was to climb St Barnabas' spire to bless its steeple-top cross.

He became bishop of Hobart and in 1860 set about building a catholic cathedral there. It is in this cathedral that Tasmanian Catholics plan to re-inter their hero.

Bishop Willson's campaign against the ill-treatment of convicts was extremely effective. He personally lobbied senior politicians in London and succeeded in getting the worst of Australia's penal colonies Norfolk Island closed. He also campaigned against the use of the lash and partial suffocation torture on convicts.

The Archdiocese of Hobart plans to build an annexe to its cathedral in which Victorian and later bishops who were interred outside the cathedral will be reburied along with Bishop Willson.

Hobart's bishop to come home after 140 years (The Age 27/9/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Archdiocese of Hobart
Creating a Gothic Paradise: Pugin at the Antipodes (Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery)
Nottingham Cathedral | Pugin
Tasmania's Gothic paradise rediscovered (The Age 14/9/02)

Museum faces axe (Dubbo Daily Liberal 26/9/05)

27 Sep 2005