Australian Embassy
Holy See
Holy See

WELCOME TO THE AUSTRALIAN EMBASSY TO THE HOLY SEE

Buongiorno!    Bonjour (did you know the Holy’s See’s official language is French?)    Hello!

Welcome to the official website of the Australian Embassy to the Holy See.  I was honoured to take up my role as Australia’s first resident female career Ambassador and third since the position was established in 2008. Here I am introducing my husband, Dr Adrian Hitchman to His Holiness Pope Francis following presentation of credentials on 8 September 2016.  Listen to my credentials' interview with the Vatican Radio here.

The Holy See is both a state recognised in international law and the governing body for the Catholic Church of 1.3 billion.  As Australia's official representative to the Holy See under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, my focus is on the state to state relationship.  Over five million Australians identify as Catholics.  Many of them greeted the three Popes who have visited Australia: Paul VI in 1970, John Paul II in 1986 and 1995, and Benedict XVI in 2008 for World Youth Day in Sydney, which attracted TV and internet audiences of more than a hundred million each.  Over 10,000 of them witnessed from St Peter’s Square in Vatican City the canonisation of Mary MacKillop as Saint Mary of the Cross on 17 October 2010.  In Rome, too, many welcomed Benedict XVI as he opened the Australian Catholic Church's pilgrimage centre, Domus Australia, in 2011.

My mission to the Holy See is to represent modern Australia – our vibrant democracy, indigenous heritage, multicultural society, activist foreign policy, and committed lay and religious making a difference in Rome and at home.  See Forthcoming Events and Recent Events for further information on our activities.  We hope you can join us!  

With warm wishes

Melissa Hitchman
Australian Ambassador to the Holy See

Forthcoming Events

25 April 2017          ANZAC Day Ceremony at 9am - Rome War Cemetery in Via Nicola Zabagalia (see below for full details)

3-7 May 2017          Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Offshore Refresher Annual Conference, Rome and Tuscany

18-19 June 2017   Export Finance Insurance Corporation Conference, Australian Embassy to the Holy See

3-7 July 2017         Welcome to the inaugural Conaci Scholar during NAIDOC Week - Save the Date - details coming soon

Dates TBC               Australian Indigenous Catalogue Launch (Collaboration of the Vatican Ethnological Museum and the
                                    Australian National University) in Australia and Rome

ANZAC DAY - 25 APRIL 2017

New Zealanders and Australians in Rome will be commemorating ANZAC Day 2017 with a memorial service, which will take place at the ROME WAR CEMETERY in Via Nicola Zabaglia (PIRAMIDE) on Tuesday 25 April at 9am. An informal reception will follow the service at the New Zealand Embassy in Via Clitunno 44, Rome 00198. For security reasons an RSVP is mandatory for those wishing to attend the informal reception at the Embassy.

RSVP: rome@nzembassy.it or telephone 06 853 7501

EVERYONE IS WELCOME

Recent Events 

22 March 2017 - Welcoming the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors

On 22 March 2017 HE Melissa Hitchman welcomed members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors (PCPM) and CEO of the Truth, Justice and Healing Council, Mr Francis Sullivan, for a luncheon briefing ahead of the PCPM's meetings at the Holy See over subsequent days. Clockwise: Baroness Sheila Hollins, Mr Francis Sullivan, Australian Commissioner Ms Kathleen McCormack AM, British Embassy to the Holy See Deputy Head of Mission Mr Steve Townsend, New Zealand Commissioner Mr Bill Kilgallon, Commission Secretary Monsignor Robert Oliver, Pontifical Gregorian University Vice-Rector and Centre for Child Protection President Fr Hans Zollner and Ambassador Hitchman. Both Australians presented to the Commission.

8 March 2017 - International Women's Day - # BeBoldforChange

On the occasion of the 106th anniversary of International Women’s Day, the Australian Embassies to the Holy See and to Italy hosted a seminar in which women shared their experiences of being bold in their chosen field.  The Embassies invited a panel of three guest speakers:  Pontifical Gregorian University Centre for Child Protection Executive Director Prof Dr Karlijn Demasure (right) presented on the protection of minors, relevant to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.  International Union of Superiors General (UISG) Executive Secretary Sr Patricia Murray ibvm (centre) addressed development in conflict zones, where many of the UISG’s sisters work, Australians among them.  Project Futures’ Founder Ms Stephanie Lorenzo (left) spoke of her own and Australia’s broader efforts to end Human Trafficking and Slavery.  Both Ambassadors commented on their own respective experiences as a woman in leadership and a male champion for change.  The seminar included a robust Q&A.  Around 100 women and men attended, drawn from both Diplomatic Corps, the Curia and Italian government, the Australian religious and lay communities, international organisations and local media.  Guests also enjoyed an opportunity for networking and further dialogue at the morning tea following the seminar.

5 February 2017 - Australian seminarians studying at the North American College

  

HE Melissa Hitchman, Dr Adrian Hitchman and family, accompanied by Deputy Alison Edye, were hosted by Australian seminarians at the Pontifical North American College for mass, brunch and a tour of the college on 5 February 2017.

3 February 2017 - We welcome PNG's first Cardinal

His Eminence Sir John Cardinal Ribat MSC KBE, Papua New Guinea's first Cardinal (second from left), visited the Australian Residence on 3 February 2017. He was accompanied by Australians Fr Ben Fleming MSC (Vicar-General of Port Morseby, left) and Fr Tony Arthur MSC (Secretary General), as well as Fr Mark McDonald (MSC Superior General) and the Holy See's Monsignor Seamus Horgan (Secretariat of State, right).

27 January 2017 - Australian FMMs active in Rome

Australian Provincial Superior Sr Linda Price FMM briefed HE Melissa Hitchman at the Franciscan Missionary of Mary Mother House on 27 January 2017. She and fellow Australians Sr Narelle Skeers FMM, a member of the FMM General Council, and Sr Kerry Scanlon FMM welcomed the Ambassador, accompanied by Dr Adrian Hitchman and Deputy Ms Alison Edye. The Australian Embassy to the Holy See thanks Sr Scanlon FMM for her work as the Contact Person of the ANZAC Group of Australian and New Zealand religious.  For further information or to register your interest in the ANZAC Group, contact Sr Kerry Scanlon at kerryscanlon@yahoo.com

26 January 2017 - Celebrating Australia Day with the Curia, the Corps & the Community

  

Domus Australia and the Australian Embassy to the Holy See welcomed a record number of guests on 26 January 2017 to celebrate Australia's National Day. Among those present were Undersecretary for Relations with States (Deputy Foreign Minister equivalent) Monsignor Antoine Camilleri (photo 1 right), Chief of Protocol Monsignor José Bettencourt (photo 1 left), Australian Catholic University's Dr Doseena Fergie (photo 2) and Guglielmo Marconi's daughter, Princess Elettra Marconi, with Domus Australia's Rector Fr Terry Bell (photo 3).

21 January 2017 - Australian mature-age vocations studying at Beda College

Canon Philip Gillespie, Rector of Beda College, welcomed HE Melissa Hitchman, Dr Adrian Hitchman and Deputy Alison Edye for the Prayer for Christian Unity, followed by dinner, on 21 January 2017. The embassy guests enjoyed the company of the five Australian mature-age seminarians currently studying at Beda, together with their international co-students.

19 January 2017 - Collaborating with the Corps

HE Melissa Hitchman met HE Jonghyu Jeong Dr.iur., Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to the  Holy See, on 19 January 2017 to discuss advancing mutual interests in Holy See relations, including through the Greater Asian Group of Ambassadors, chaired by HE Mehmet Paҫaci, Ambassador of Turkey to the Holy See.

10 January 2017 - Australia and the Holy See partnering for the protection of minors

The Pontifical Gregorian University's Academic Vice Rector Fr Hans Zollner SJ and Director of the Centre for Child Protection (CCP) Professor Karlijn Demasure hosted HE Melissa Hitchman and Deputy Alison Edye on 10 January 2017.  Fr Zollner, who is also President of the CCP, visited Australia in 2016, briefing Australian policy makers and abuse survivors on the Centre's work on child protection.  Accompanied by the Australian representative on the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, Kathleen McCormack AM, Fr Zollner also advised stakeholders of the Commission's work.

9 January 2017 - Attending the annual Papal Address to the Diplomatic Corps

His Holiness Pope Francis addressed the Diplomatic Corps to the Holy See on 9 January 2017 on priorities for the year ahead: the theme was Peace and Security.

HE Melissa Hitchman, accompanied by Dr Adrian Hitchman and Deputy Alison Edye, arrived together with HE Janet Lowe, Ambassador of New Zealand to the Holy See, non-resident from The Hague, who was in Rome for the occasion.

Ambassador Hitchman's Vatican Radio interview on the Papal Address is available here

Pope Francis' message to Australia's Indigenous Community

As we prepare to welcome the inaugural Conaci Scholar in July (see NAIDOC week entry below in "Forthcoming Events"), it is timely to recall Pope Francis' message to Australia's Indigenous Community on the 30th anniversary of Saint John Paul II's visit to Alice Springs on 17 October 2016. See here for more information in Italian. The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference also commemorated the historic visit. See here more information in Italian.

Useful information about visiting the Holy See

Visiting the Vatican - general information on booking various Vatican tours and tickets for events presided by the Pope

Temporary Employment Register

The Australian Embassy to the Holy See is opening a Temporary Employment Register from 1 February 2017 to 1 March 2017. See About Us for further information.