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Fr Peter Whitely, left, and Sean O’Sullivan with Bishop Matthew Gibney’s crucifix (The eRecord/Michelle Tan)

Former Perth Bishop Matthew Gibney’s crucifix has been returned to the Perth Archdiocese almost a century after his death in 1925. Source: The eRecord.

Bishop Gibney bequeathed his crucifix to his dedicated housekeeper, Anne O’Sullivan, in recognition of her many years of loyal service.

She in turn bequeathed the crucifix to her great-grandson Sean O’Sullivan who, conscious of the historical importance of the crucifix, was anxious that it remain in the possession of the Perth Archdiocese. 

In the presence of Perth Archdiocese’s vicar general, Fr Peter Whitely, Mr O’Sullivan signed a deed of gift and presented the crucifix to the archdiocesan archives, ensuring that Bishop Gibney’s crucifix will remain in the possession of the Archdiocese of Perth in perpetuity.

The crucifix, 380mm X 170mm in size, is made of wood with brass caps and a long chain attached, in addition to having a brass figure of Jesus Christ on the cross and a brass medallion of the Blessed Virgin, to whom Bishop Gibney was dedicated.

Matthew Gibney was born in November 1835 in Ireland, was ordained as a priest in 1863 and arrived in Perth later that year. 

In 1880, Fr Gibney travelled east in order to raise funds to rebuild Perth’s two orphanages. However, his journey by train from Benalla to Albury coincided with Ned Kelly and his gang being surrounded in a Glenrowan hotel and a shootout with police ensuing. 

Fr Gibney left his train and tended to the wounded Kelly, allegedly using the crucifix to protect himself from the fire that had broken out at the hotel.

Fr Gibney’s return to Perth was described as “in a blaze of glory” and he resumed his work under Bishop Martin Griver.

In 1886, he was appointed coadjutor bishop of Perth and in 1887 he was consecrated bishop following Bishop Griver’s death.


Bishop Gibney’s Cross returns to the Archdiocese (The eRecord)