The Church of St. Benedict’s Smithfield is an official shrine of the Archdiocese of Sydney.

St Benedict  “the messenger of peace, the promoter of unity, the teacher of civilisation, the herald of Christian religion”.
(Pope Paul VI)

To honor St. Benedict every Wednesday at 6:00pm the mass of the feast of St. Benedict is celebrated. The Mass if followed a holy hour of devotions including a litany to St. Benedict, Rosary and Benediction.  Confessions are available during the devotions.

What is a Shrine?

“Making a pilgrimage to shrines is one of the most eloquent expressions of the faith of a people for God… This popular, religiosity is anauthentic form of  evangelization that must be promoted and emphasized… In the Shrines, in fact, our people live a deep spirituality, that of piety that through the centuries has reflected the faith with simple, but very meaningful devotions. The Shrine is the “house of forgiveness, where each person encounters the tenderness of the Father who is merciful to all, without excluding anyone”. (Pope Francis 21.01.16)

Our Story

On 24 June 1967, an application was lodged with Fairfield City Council for the approval for the erection of a modern Church to include the innovations in the Spirit of Vatican Council II. The Catholic Weekly dedicated a full page to the

Shrine on July 6, 1967. The Parish Bulletins of July 1967 outlined the general programme that the parish intended to follow. “We have to build a new church which will be a monument to our faith”. Efforts were made to see the Shrine of St Benedict become a reality. ‘A place of worship and indulgences for all parishioners’.

A Parish meeting chaired by L. Bonnet was held on July 31, 1967 to outline the project. The large gathering outlined & approved the 9 year vision. Between 1967 and 1970’s Among many of the Fundraising activities were Walk-a-thons, car rallies, picnics and raffles. All these activities not only raised the necessary funds for the Shrine but helped to build up the Parish community and to look towards a common goal of Peace, radiating the Love of Christ.‘ Operation Mustard Seed’ was initiated by a Senior Dutch Parishioner who told the community to “see the great things that come from the many small donations”. He collected bottles for many years and donated the proceeds for St Benedict’s message of Peace & Unity, (there were many similar acts of contributions by other parishioners even children baked & sold cakes). The acts of generosity witnessed were in comparison with those read about in the “Fioretti” of St Francis of Assisi. “We can truly say the Shrine of St Benedict’s was built by the poor and the sacrifices of the humble”.

The Shrine was designed by Mr C Constantini. The design of a square building is to represent the surrounding district and the cement cross on the southern façade is to serve as an inspiration to our modern Industrial society. “Through the Cross that is the law of Christ, Benedict brought stability and development to public and private institutions.” The final decision to commence the Shrine was finally reached. His Eminence Cardinal J. Freeman then Archbishop of Sydney approved the preliminary plans on March 31, 1974.

Fairfield City Council gave their final approval to the project on May 20, 1974. The Parish Bulletin on October 6, 1974 announced that the work was to commence soon. By November 25 1974, the Shrine was pegged and the concrete foundations were poured by volunteer workers on Christmas Eve 1974. By June 1975 the work was proceeding well and by September 1975 the walls, roof and floor were completed.

The Shrine was dedicated by His Eminence James Cardinal Freeman, Archbishop of Sydney in the presence of the Pro- Nuncio, Gino Paro and the Auxiliary Bishop David Cremin, on Sunday March  21,  1976  when the Benedictine Order celebrates the death of St Benedict. The Altar was consecrated by the Pro-Nuncio Gino Paro on July 11, 1976, on the Feast of St Benedict.

The Crucifix and Medal of St. Benedict

For the early Christians, the cross was a favourite symbol and badge of their faith in Christ. From the writings of St Gregory the Great (540-604), we know that St Benedict had a deep faith in the Cross and worked miracles with the sign of the cross. There is indeed no medal that possesses such  wonderful  and  none  so highly esteemed by the Holy Church as the Medal of St Benedict. Whosoever wears this medal with devotion, trusting to the life-giving power of the Holy Cross and the merits of the Holy Father, “St Benedict may expect the powerful protection of this great Patriarch in his spiritual and temporal needs. The medal is one of the oldest and most honoured  medals  used  by Catholics and due to the belief in its power against evil is also known as the ‘devil-chasing medal”. The reverse side of the medal carries the Vade retro satana (“step back, Satan”) formula, which has been used by Catholics to ward off evil since the 15th century. The medal  is  used  by  Catholics  to  ward  off  spiritual  and physical dangers, especially those related to evil, poison, and temptation. It may be worn about the neck, attached to the scapula or the Rosary, placed in the house, car or attached to keys. Often it is placed in the fields ,  the foundations of buildings.

Saint  Benedict

St. Benedict was born in Norcia, Italy, in 480 and died in 547. He is the Patriarch of Western Monasticism and founder of the Order which bears his name. St. Benedict himself revealed to St. Gertrude – also one of the great saints in the history of the Catholic Church, and herself a Benedictine nun – that “whoever reminds me of the extraordinary privilege with which God deigned to glorify my last moments, shall experience my particular assistance in his final combat. I will  be a  faithful protector against the assaults of the enemy. Fortified by my presence, he will escape the snares of the evil one and safely attain eternal happiness.”

Art of the Shrine

In planning the Shrine the advice of Vatican II, was kept in mind. “The works (of art) aim exclusively at turning people’s thoughts to God persuasively and devoutly”.

As you enter the Shrine from the Southern Entrance one is faced   with   the   majestic   Sanctuary   and   Altar,   Ambo & Baptismal Font of Marble “Rosso of Verona”. The floor is of “Botticino” and “Arabesque” marble. On a sunny day this marble reflects myriads of colours through the Stained Glass windows. All was imported from Italy. The pews are of Mahogany timber and accommodate approximately 900.

The inauguration o f the 1,187 Pipe Organ, (from the “Pinchi” House of Foligno, Italy) was on Easter Sunday 22 A p  r i  l ,  
1984.

The   stained glass windows and mosaic of St Benedict behind the Altar were conceived, designed and executed by Ditta Michele Mellini of Florence, Italy. Some of the windows were influenced by the school of modern Aboriginal artists.