History of St Ambrose’s Church Brunswick

In 1869 the foundation stone was laid for St Ambrose's Church at 287 Sydney Road, Brunswick. The newspaper of the time reports:

The weather was beautifully fine, and about 800 persons from the various parts of the surrounding district were present at the sacred ceremonies. The want of a Catholic Church in Brunswick has been severely felt for a long time by the Catholics of the Borough, who are obliged to go to Coburg to Mass or come to Melbourne.

The land for the church was donated by Mr Michael Dawson, a resident of the neighbourhood. In 1873 the church was completed at a cost of 6,000 pounds.

In those days there was an Italian family in the parish. Sebastian Danielli and his wife Harriet Bagatti had arrived in Brunswick in 1859 after being married in Milan the previous year. All their children were born in Brunswick. They may have been the only Italian family in the area in those early days. They suggested Saint Ambrose's as the name for the church because St Ambrose was a much loved bishop in Milan in the 4th century.

In 1888 Brunswick was proclaimed a town and it had a population of 14,792. In 1890, St Ambrose's became a parish in its own right, being made independent from the Coburg parish. With the need for a larger church, the present church was extended in 1899 when the transepts, with the sanctuary and the two chapels, the porch and the baptistry were added. The memorial stone was laid near the door of the northern transcepts on 19 February, 1899.

The parish church building is of a late Gothic style and is one of the finer churches of Melbourne, built in bluestone, with a timber supported ceiling, a 19th century organ and high quality stained glass windows.