Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/39

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

admission. The national character of the congregation becomes manifest, when in the course of a sermon, the preacher makes an incidental allusion to the old land, her sufferings for the faith, the achievements of her sons, her fortitude and fidelity in the past, and her bright destiny in the future as "a nation once again." The panegyric of St. Patrick is here an annual institution. It is preached on the Sunday nearest the national anniversary, and then the throng becomes something astonishing. Several reasons have been given why St. Francis' Church should have taken such a hold on the popular liking, but the one advanced by a witty Irish priest, when asked his opinion, is rather ingenious: "You see," he said, "it is a nice walk down hill to St. Francis' from every quarter, and the people never think of the up-hill journey afterwards." And this is literally true, for, no matter in what direction you start for St. Francis', you walk down a decline, it being built, as already mentioned, in the hollow between the Eastern and the Western hills. This latter circumstance renders the locality at times both disagreeable and dangerous during heavy rains, for the running streams converge from all points in this hollow and flow past St. Francis' Church in a foaming torrent to the Yarra. According to tradition, after one of these temporary floods, a heavily-laden waggon and a team of horses once sank completely out of sight in the soft soil immediately in front of St. Francis'. But this occurred in the early days, when there were no smooth, substantial pavements, and strong macadamized roads as at present. It is in St. Francis' Church on Sunday evenings, at Vespers, that the Irish servant girls from all parts of the city and suburbs are to be seen in force. As a class they are a credit to their country and their creed. By the majority of Protestant masters and