Aboriginal Culture

ImageThe Aboriginal Message Stick housed in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral and the beautiful Stone Inlay in the Cathedral forecourt are magnificent and poignant additions to the Catholic heritage of Melbourne.

For too long the indigenous people of this country have been left on the margins of our society, and sadly this has often been true of the Church as well. The intention of my predecessor, Archbishop Pell, in encouraging the installation of the Message Stick and the Stone Inlay, was to acknowledge the wrongs of the past and to highlight the special place that Aboriginal people occupy in the Church. This I warmly affirm as my personal view also.

I welcome you to this great Cathedral and encourage you in visiting it to remember all who have helped to build and maintain the Church in Melbourne, especially the Aboriginal people.


ImageThe Wurundjeri say that our story is similar to yours. Your story is by your chosen faith, our story is by the dreaming. We both have creators and we believe in our creators. Ours is Bunjil the Eagle. In the creation story we say we belong to the land, that we are part of the land and the land part of us. Wurundjeri also say that there is a place for everyone and everyone has a place on this land.

ImageThis beautiful Aboriginal stone inlay depicts the Creator Spirit who is the continuing source of life in both Aboriginal and Christian spiritual traditions. Encircled by a border of greenstone and a larger surround of basalt, the design of the stone inlay is based on the conceptual understanding that meaning is multi-layered.  Each symbol in the design has dual meaning. The particular perspective of the viewer will determine the interpretation of the design. The viewer also is given the opportunity to gain insight into another people’s culture.

ImageIn Aboriginal culture message sticks were used as a means of communication with other groups. They were made of wood and came in various sizes, shapes and markings. They were not comprised of writing but of symbol; the messenger conveyed the details. The messengers were usually young men and, as they displayed the message stick to the elders of the groups they passed through, safe passage was granted.

Aboriginal Culture