Australian Embassy
Holy See
Holy See

Appointment of Dr Sharman Stone as Ambassador for Women and Girls

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop, has announced the appointment of Dr Sharman Stone as the next Ambassador for Women and Girls. Dr Stone will take up the role from January 2017.

The Ambassador plays a key role in furthering Australia’s Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Strategy to promote women’s leadership and women’s economic empowerment, and end violence against women and girls. Dr Stone will promote Australia’s efforts in gender equality and women’s empowerment in bilateral, regional and global forums.

Dr Stone had a distinguished 20-year career in the Australian Parliament, progressing major issues that affect women and girls, including the elimination of child marriages, human trafficking and poverty reduction.

Welcome to our new Deputy Head of Mission

Ms Alison Edye commenced on 10 October 2016 as Deputy Head of Mission at the Australian Embassy to the Holy See.  The Embassy welcomes Ms Edye to Rome.

Welcome to our new Australian Ambassador

On 5 May 2016 Foreign Minister Julie Bishop announced the appointment of Ms Melissa Hitchman as Australia's next Ambassador to the Holy See.

Ambassador Hitchman took up the position on 18 July and presented credentials to His Holiness Pope Francis on 8 September 2016.

The Embassy welcomes Ambassador Hitchman and her family to Rome.

Joint Launch by the Australian Catholic University/Australian Embassy to the Holy See of the Francis Xavier Conaci Scholarship


The Australian Catholic University (ACU) and Australian Embassy to the Holy See jointly launched the Francis Xavier Conaci Scholarship at the Vatican Ethnological Museum on 24 September 2016.  The Scholarship will allow an indigenous ACU student to study the core curriculum unit Self and Society at the joint ACU/Catholic University of America Rome Centre in January or July each year.  It commemorates Conaci, a Benedictine student who travelled from New Norcia in Western Australia to Rome in 1848 to study in Rome and is buried at the Basilica of St Paul’s Outside the Walls.  The Scholarship has been endorsed by the Indigenous community, Benedictines in New Norcia and St Paul’s Outside the Walls, and the Australian Government.  It is generously funded by ACU.  Deputy Director of the Vatican Museums, Professor Barbara Jatta welcomed over 70 guests to the launch, which was held at the Australian Collection of the Museum (above centre - left).  Director of First Peoples and Equity Pathways at the Australian Catholic University, Ms Jane Ceolin (above left), acted as MC. ACU Pro-Chancellor Julien O’Connell announced the commencement of the inaugural scholar in 2017.  Australian Ambassador HE Melissa Hitchman welcomed the initiative as consistent with the Indigenous pillar of the Australian Government’s Human Rights Council candidacy for 2018-2020. New Norcia Abbot, Rt Reverend Abbot John Herbert OSB (above right) and St Paul’s Outside the Walls Emeritus Abbot, Rt Reverend Edmund Power OSB (above centre - centre), read first-hand accounts of Conaci’s life in the presence of Archpriest of the Basilica of St Paul’s Outside the Walls, His Eminence Cardinal James Michael Harvey (above centre - left) and other guests.  Further information is available at

Sport for Humanity


Australian indie band Sheppard's single, Geronimo, opened the Holy See's Faith and Sport in the Service of Humanity Conference on 5 October.  His Holiness Pope Francis, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, International Olympic Committee Chair Thomas Bach, Allianz CEO Oliver Bäte and religious leaders from many faiths attended the Opening Ceremony.  Allianz supported the Humanity Sports Club launched at the Conference to promote six principles in sport and life: joy, love, respect, compassion, enlightenment and balance.  The Conference continued until 7 October.  Among the Australians participating over the three days, Archdiocese of Canberra & Goulburn Episcopal Vicar Rev Monsignor John Woods briefed the diplomatic corps afterwards at the Australian Embassy to the Holy See.  He also presented Pontifical Council for Culture President Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi with a Canberra Raiders’ Rugby League jersey No. 1 emblazoned with Bergoglio in honour of His Holiness Pope Francis, born Jorge Mario Bergoglio.  The Conference was arranged by Cardinal Ravasi and colleagues. Further information is available is at Sport for Humanity.

Australian Girls Choir at Domus Australia


The Australian Embassies to the Holy See and Italy hosted a performance of the Australian Girls Choir at the Chapel of St Peter Chanel at Domus Australia on 4 October 2016 (above left).  Acting Rector Fr Jake Mudge (above centre) welcomed over 70 guests drawn from the diplomatic corps and expatriate communities.  Under the direction of 2016 Tour leaders Jessamine Wessen and Bronte Turkana (in front, above right), the Choir sang I am, You are, We are Australian and My Island Home among other pieces, ahead of a performance on 5 October 2016 at the Papal Audience.  The Choir concluded its three week tour in Rome following appearances in London, Villers-Bretonneux, Paris and Venice, among other cities.  The tour follows successful ones to Rome in 2006, 2009 and 2012.  It was established over thirty years ago in Melbourne and now numbers over 5,000 young women learning to sing, dance and perform in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.  Not only does the Choir empower young women throughout Australia, it also contributes philanthropically.  Girls from Oz (G-Oz) provides performing arts education programs to those unable to access them for economic or geographic reasons, such as in remote Halls Creek and Carnarvon in WA.  Choir members are also Youth Ambassadors for the National Breast Cancer Foundation, raising money for research into the prevention, detection and treatment of this disease.  Several Choir associates fund scholarships in recognition of young talent.  Further information on the Choir is available at

Australian Catholic University Rome Centre

Dr Adrian Hitchman, Australian Ambassador to the Holy See HE Melissa Hitchman and Canberra-Goulburn Archbishop Christopher Prowse celebrate the official blessing of the Australian Catholic University (ACU) and Catholic University of America Rome Centre on 25 September 2016.  Further information is available at the ACU Rome Centre.

Gathering of Australian and New Zealand Religious and Friends


The Embassy hosted a monthly gathering of Australian and New Zealand Religious and Friends at the official residence on 17 September 2016.  Among the guests were the group’s Convenor, Sr Margaret Ryan SMSM and The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Representative to the Holy See and Director of the Anglican Centre, The Most Reverend Sir David Moxon (above left), La Trobe’s Professor Joan Barclay Lloyd and the Holy See Secretariat of State’s Fr Anthony Ekpo (above centre), and Australian artist Nike Arrighi Borghese (above right).

Holy See Curia, Diplomatic Corps and Australia celebrate the presentation of credentials of HE Melissa Hitchman to His Holiness Pope Francis on 8 September

Ambassador and Dr Hitchman hosted Holy See Curia, the Diplomatic Corps and Australians at the official residence on 8 September 2016.  Ambassador Hitchman outlined the key objectives for her term as (1) promoting the convergence between an innovative Australian Government and reformist papacy (2) raising the profile of the broad agenda Australia and the Holy See have on issues such as conflict prevention, peacebuilding, anti-human trafficking and gender empowerment among many others (3) leveraging the value add Australian religious – some global leaders of their congregations – provide in Rome not only by bringing Australia to the Holy See, but the Holy See to Australia and (4) harnessing the new dimension in the bilateral relationship with the establishment of the Australian Catholic University’s Rome Centre, which attracts students and mid-career professionals to study and contribute to greater understanding between Australia and the Holy See. 


Among the guests were Archbishop of Boston and President of the Pontifical Council for the Protection of Minors, His Eminence Seán Patrick Cardinal O’Malley OFM Cap (above left), Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, HE Armindo Fernandes do Espirito Santo Vieira (above centre), and Australian member of the Pontifical Council for the Protection of Minors, Kathleen McCormack AM (above right).

Canonisation of St Teresa of Kolkata

Ambassador-designate Melissa Hitchman attends the canonization of St Teresa of Kolkata on 4 September 2016 at a mass celebrated by His Holiness, Pope Francis, at St Peter's Basilica.  The Missionaries of Charity, which St Teresa founded, is active in Australia, providing services to women and children in crisis, indigenous communities and the disadvantaged.  In 1982 then Mother Teresa was made a Companion of the Order of Australia.  On her death in 1997, then Governor-General Sir William Deane wrote a message of condolence on behalf of all Australians.  Missionaries of Charity Sr Tessila and Sr Bridget have been in Rome assisting with preparations for the canonization for several months.  The Embassy congratulates them and their congregation on their founder's canonization.

Domus Australia

Ambassador-designate Melissa Hitchman meets Father Terry Bell, Rector of Domus Australia, on 29 July 2016.  The former Marist student house was purchased in 2008 by a group of Australian Archdioceses led by the Sydney Archdiocese and now welcomes visitors of all faiths and nationalities to Rome.  Further details are available at Domus Australia, Via Cernaia 14/B, 00185 Roma Italia, +39 (0) 6 4201 4830 or 02 9390 5980 (if calling from Australia), or

The Jubilee Year of Mercy

8 December 2015 to 20 November 2016

© Copyright Pontifical Council for the Promotion of New Evangelization. All rights reserved.

The Jubilee Year of Mercy, which commenced on 8 December 2015 and will conclude on 20 November 2016, is expected to see an influx of international visitors, tourists and pilgrims to Rome.

Overall responsibility for the Jubilee rests with the Holy See’s Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization and details of the event can be found at the Council’s Jubilee website, including a section on pilgrim registration

The Embassy will post updated information from time to time.

Following are news and articles on the Embassy's events and activities.


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
Past News Items - items previously published on the front page