Cunningham Memorial Chapel

In 1920, Mother Cecilia Cunningham received an inheritance of £120,000 from her parents in Argentina. The Chapel was erected in their memory.  The dedication plaque records the name of the donor and her parents, Patrick and Harriet Cunningham. At the entrance of the Chapel is a Holy Water font in marble, with the inscription ‘In memory of Harriet Cunningham, who died 20/11/1911’.

Cecilia Cunningham had been disappointed in the poverty of churches in Australia, in contrast to the ornateness of their Latin American counterparts. She had made one request about the disposal of her large fortune. She would like some of it to be used for a convent chapel which would be worthy of its sacred purpose.

On May 4, 1921, Archbishop Spence O.P., laid the foundation stone for the Memorial Chapel dedicated to Our Lady Help of Christians. The Chapel was blessed and opened on November 21, 1922. The Architect, Mr Walter Bagot, travelled to Rome to visit the St Mary Major Basilica, which inspired him to build the splendidly ornate chapel.

The Cunningham Chapel has been confirmed as a State Heritage Place in the SA Heritage Register.

By Carol Grantham, 2022

Cunningham Memorial Chapel
(Cunningham Memorial Chapel, St Aloysius College Archives)


Heritage Places n.d., The South Australian Heritage Places Database, viewed 31 May 2024, <>.