Archives on Social Media

Archives provide evidence of the activities of an organisation or business. They help us understand our past and inform our future. They document lives, memories and legacies and preserve them for the future.  Archives contribute to the understanding of our Catholic community and help tell the stories of our clergy and parishes from the first Marist missionaries in 1840s, to the present. Where as once you would need to visit an Archive to view the collection, changing communications and technology allow us to bring the collection to you. The Diocesan Archive maintains a social media presence on Facebook and Instagram. As many members of our Christchurch Catholic community may not have social media accounts, here is a selection of posts over the last year profiling some of our wonderful treasures.

More Social Media Snippets (hosted November 2018)

The Diocesan Archive maintains a social media presence on Facebook and Instagram. As many members of our Christchurch Catholic community may not have social media accounts, here is a selection of more posts over the last few months profiling some of our wonderful treasures.

Every week, on social media, we run a puzzle post which sometimes features parish buildings in our Diocese, past and present. Here is a selection of those featured:

St Teresa of Lisieux, Riccarton

Our original puzzle post asked ‘In what Parish did this Church once stand?’

Riccarton Parish’s second church was built in 1929. (An earlier wooden church was built on Peer St in 1924 and later moved to Our Lady of Victories Parish on Main South Rd). This Church of St Teresa of Lisieux was demolished to make way for the current Church which was opened on 25 May 1969. Stones from the church were used to form the two pillars at the entrance of the new church.

St Brigids, Loburn

Noted architect Benjamin Mountfort designed many Anglican churches but he also designed about six Catholic churches, with only one surviving.

The remaining Mountfort church is St Brigid’s, Loburn. He also designed the first Rangiora church, the first Timaru church, the first Leeston church, the first church of the Blessed Sacrament at Shands Track, the first Temuka church and possibly the first Ashburton church (St Augustine’s), Interestingly, Akaroa and Lyttelton were designed by Maxwell Bury who was, for a time, in partnership with Benjamin Mountfort.

St Patrick’s, Kumara

Our original post asked ‘What church, pictured here and still standing today, was built in six weeks in 1877 because Bishop Redwood had promised if a church was built by St Patrick’s Day he would come to open it that day?’

St Patrick’s Kumara was built in 6 weeks, following a promise from Bishop Redwood while visiting the West Coast in January 1877 that he would open a church in Kumara on St Patrick’s Day if it were built in time.
The black and white photo from the Marist Archives’ Redwood Collection shows the original St Patrick’s Church in Kumara.


This photo was sent to me by the Marist Archives and is of a parish Church and Presbytery, taken sometime around 1878-1886.

The photo  was indeed of the Presbytery and original church at Rangiora. The church was designed by Benjamin Mountfort and was opened on 31 July 1870 by Fr Chervier.

Our Lady of Victories, Sockburn

Here was a weekend teaser – ‘What parish church was this? The parish was formed in 1949 but it’s first church had opened in 1924. The church was later replaced by its current (iconic) church in 1965.’

This was the first church at Our Lady of Victories Parish in Sockburn. Originally built on Peer St this church served the Riccarton area and when Our Lady of Victories Parish was established in 1949 the church was moved to the parish site at Main South Road. Replaced in 1969 by the present church, the original still exists as part of the parish centre.

And here are a few more interesting posts from our Social Media pages:

Papal Bull

This is the Papal Bull appointing Barry Jones Bishop of the Christchurch Diocese. We are incredibly grateful to Bishop Barry’s family who gave the framed Papal Bull to the Diocesan Archives as this is an important record in our Diocesan history.

Address to Bishop Grimes

Here is a wonderful leather bound printed address given by Fr Le Menant Des Chesnais SM on 31 January 1888 on the arrival of Bishop Grimes to Christchurch [CDCA Archives Reference 2018.20.1]. We have a collection of addresses yet to be catalogued, but this one provides a wonderful overview of the newly formed Diocese of Christchurch.

Sanctuary Lamp wicks

In our churches, an oil lamp or wax candle or electric light, known as a Sanctuary Lamp is placed near the tabernacle to indicate and honour the presence of Christ.
This undated box of Sanctuary Oil Wicks was given to the Archives by a Lincoln parishioner and, given my love of quirky items, I had to share.
From the picture you can see the wicks have been trimmed quite short. The wick would draw the fuel up the wick to the flame, with a round wick producing a cleaner burn. The box of wicks cost 2 shillings and a penny from Catholic Supplies (NZ) Ltd.

Reference Catalogue

This ‘Reference Catalogue’ refers to Bishop Grimes’ Library. It is a comprehensive list of the contents of Bishop Grimes’ reference library. The very large library collection, encompassing subjects such as Sacred Literature, Theology, History, Canon Law, and Geology, was transferred to the University of Canterbury in 1980 where the long term preservation and care of the books could be sustained. Shown here is a bookplate inserted by the University Library into each book identifying them as part of the Grimes Collection.

Butler’s Lives of the Saints

In our reference library we have ‘The lives of the Fathers, Martyrs and other Principal Saints’ by Fr Alban Butler. Known as Butler’s Lives of the Saints we hold a complete set of the 1936 edition and an almost-complete set of the 1870 Illuminated Edition (pictured). Unfortunately, we are missing Div 2   [Archives Reference 2017.1.312]

Social Media Snippets (hosted April 2018)

Church of the Blessed Sacrament:

This lithograph from our collection depicts the Church of the Blessed Sacrament, Barbadoes St. Designed by Benjamin Mountfort and erected under the supervision of Fr Chataigner SM, the Church was blessed and opened on 20 May 1864, by the Right Rev. Dr Viard SM, Bishop of Wellington. The building was enlarged several times and after the arrival of Bishop Grimes became the pro-cathedral. It was moved in 1901 to a site on Ferry Road while the present Cathedral was built and was converted to classrooms on that site before eventually being demolished.


These are early marriage dispensations. A dispensation from the Bishop was required for a Catholic to marry a non-Catholic. The non-Catholic would sign a document promising not to interfere with the others religious duties, and children born of the marriage were to be baptised Catholic. Dispensations were common until c1960s.

Official Souvenir booklet:

Hidden amongst a box of Bishop Grimes’ sermons I found this Official Souvenir booklet of the Coronation of King Edward VII, June 25 & 26, 1902. As Canterbury celebrated the Coronation, this booklet is full of adverts from local businesses and images of the royal family.


This ornate cameo of Pope Leo XIII was presented to Bishop Grimes by the Pope in 1897 and was raffled at a bazaar to raise money for the building of the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament. It was later returned to the Cathedral.


This satchel from our collection belonged to Bishop Grimes. It was later used by the Cathedral St Vincent de Paul Society for many years.

Shand’s Track:

After the City parish was established on Barbados St a country parish based at Shand’s Track was established to serve the rural Canterbury area. Here is the original Shand’s Track Baptism Register [Archives Reference 2017.8.1] with the first two baptisms recorded in July 1871 being Bernard McNamara and Jeremiah Sexton.

Un-returned Library Book:

It would appear that Bishop Grimes forgot to return this book ‘A Treatise on Purgatory’ to the Catholic Circulating Library. [Bishop Grimes’ Sermons, uncatalogued]

Shadow Puppetry: 

One of our volunteers, Shaun, is listing a collection of Bishop Grimes’ sermons. While providing a fascinating liturgical insight into the first bishop of the Christchurch Diocese, Shaun has discovered a range of other publications of interest nestled amongst the sermon anthologies. Today he uncovered this booklet all about Shadow Puppetry!
Bishop Grimes had very wide and eclectic tastes in literature and his extensive personal library was donated to the MacMillan Brown at Canterbury University many years ago.
While we have no evidence to suggest Bishop Grimes ever exhibited his skills in shadow puppetry from the lectern, it is fun to think the thought may have crossed his mind.

West Coast Confirmations:

In an unassuming box labelled ‘notebooks and diaries’ I found this notebook ‘List of candidates to be confirmed on the West Coast’.  Here is a page of confirmations in Greymouth on 17 April 1910. Bishop Grimes certainly liked to keep track of everything he did.


There is something about the beautiful old letterheads and billheads …. here is a selection from just one box of archives relating to the Cathedral.

Altar Stones:

An altar stone is a piece of natural stone containing relics in a cavity and intended to serve as the essential part of an altar for the celebration of Mass.
In Rome, during the persecutions, Mass was celebrated on the tombs of martyrs in the catacombs beneath the city, where the Christians escaped for safety. This is the foundation of the tradition of having Mass said over relics of saints.
With churches being demolished or undergoing repairs it is useful for each parish to ensure the location of their altar stones are known and its provenance and relics documented.
The Diocesan Archives would like to maintain a Register, recording parochial Altar Stones, and maintain an ongoing record of these Altar Stones. This way any movement or change of location of Altar Stones within parishes will be documented for the future. If a parish is unable to care for any Altar Stones, not being used, the Diocesan Archives can provide a safe environment for their storage.  We currently hold an Altar Stone for St Joseph’s Parish, while their parochial archives are being sorted.

Bishop Grimes:

Bishops wear certain regalia which are distinctive of the Order of the Bishop, the fullness of the Sacrament of Holy Orders the pectoral cross, ring, mitre, crozier (staff). The regular regalia, which identify a bishop, are the pectoral cross and the ring. Here is a wonderful large print of Bishop Grimes in full episcopal regalia, including his Morse and Pectoral Cross, both of which are in our collection.  [Archives Reference Photographic Collection #2847]

This Pectoral Cross was given to Bishop Grimes on his arrival to Christchurch in February 1888. It was adorned with shamrocks intertwined with lilies around the bishop’s mitre. In the centre was his coat of arms, which has not survived the years. The cross was made in the hope the new bishop of Christchurch would be Irish. Though he was English, Bishop Grimes loved Ireland and I imagine he wore the cross with pride.  The Morse is a clasp for a Bishop’s cope. The ornamental clasp was used to fasten the cope across the chest. This Morse belonged to Bishop Grimes, see photo of +Grimes above, and you can see it here in its original box.[Archives Reference 2018.12]

Bishop Brodie:

Here is an early painting of Bishop Matthew Brodie, the second Bishop of Christchurch 1915-1943. This painting was reproduced as a postcard and obviously dates to his early years in Christchurch.


One of the many reasons that working in an Archives is fascinating and interesting is that you never know what you will find. For some Friday fun, here nestled among a box of notebooks is a collection of Limericks like this one:
‘A merchant of Allahbahad,
Found trade so exceedingly bad,
That he shot at his head,
But missed – so they said.
And was afterwards glad that he had’


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