The St Francis Xavier Cathedral in Geraldton was built by architect and Catholic Priest, Monsignor John Hawes. Construction of the cathedral began in 1916 and was finally completed in 1938 after many delays. Monsignor John Hawes was born in Richmond, England and studied architecture in London before becoming an Anglican priest. In 1915 he was invited by Bishop Kelly of Geraldton to work as a country pastor in Western Australia. Hawes presented Bishop Kelly with plans for a Spanish Mission style cathedral.
On his arrival in Western Australia, Hawes served briefly at the parish of Mount Magnet before being recalled to Geraldton to commence construction of the St Francis Xavier Cathedral in 1916.
The first stage of the cathedral was completed in 1918 but following the death of Bishop Kelly, work halted. In 1930 the new bishop of Geraldton, James Patrick O’Collins appointed Hawes the Diocesan Architect and he spent his time designing churches for many agricultural towns in Western Australia including, Morawa, Mullewa, Northampton, Perenjori and Yalgoo. In 1935 work recommenced on the St Francis Xavier Cathedral and it was finally completed two years later.
The St Francis Xavier Cathedral remains the most impressive of all Monsignor Hawes designs. The Cathedral is a Byzantine-style design with influences from churches around the world. The orange and grey stripe colour scheme in the interior of the church was believed to be influenced by the Cathedral in Siena, Italy.