Australian Embassy
Holy See
Holy See


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.

Australian Ambassador-designate to the Holy See

Melissa Hitchman

Australia's Ambassador-designate to the Holy See is Ms Melissa Hitchman, who will take up her position on 18 July 2016. For more information, please see "About Us."


Gallipoli Centenary

The Embassy commemorated the centenary of the Gallipoli Campaign in a unique public diplomacy event on 22 April 2015 held jointly with the Turkish Embassy to the Holy See in the presence of senior Vatican officials, academics, diplomats and media.

The event, at the Turkish cultural centre in Rome, was inspired by a Turkish-language book based on previously unpublished documents from the Vatican Secret Archives about the wartime role of Holy See and Turkish authorities in locating battlefield graves of allied servicemen killed at Gallipoli, including an Australian soldier, Lieutenant Frank Coffee. 

The book\'s author, Mr Rinaldo Marmara, was guest of honour at the event, and moderated a panel presentation and discussion about the Gallipoli campaign by academics and historians including Professor Stuart Ward, Head of the Centre for Australian Studies at the University of Copenhagen.


Other panelists included Professor Mustafa Türkes, Department of International Relations, Middle East Technical University, Ankara, and Professor Nese Özden, Head of Department of History, Faculty of Languages, History and Geography, Ankara University.

The event also featured an exhibition of photographs and translated extracts from Mr Marmara's book.



The Embassy continued to reach out to professional women in lay and religious circles in Rome by celebrating International Women’s Day (IWD) on 9 March 2015, building on the previous year’s IWD seminar on the theme of the Female Face of the Vatican.

The seminar proved so successful that the Embassy repeated the format again this year with a panel of three speakers giving presentations on the theme of Women and Development: Facets of Female Empowerment.


The panelists were: Kristina Gill, Australia's Adviser for Development from the Australian Embassy to Italy; Raffaella Copper, Senior Vice President, Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets (Europe); and Flaminia Giovanelli, Undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

Each of them examined the seminar theme from their own professional and personal experience, and provided perspectives on the relationship between gender equality, women's empowerment and economic growth.

Ms Gill also set out the over-arching Australian policy framework for the seminar, addressing Australia's commitment to gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls including through development programs and the work of the office of the Ambassador for Women and Girls.

The seminar was well attended by an audience of 50 professional women from the Holy See (and its agencies), Italian government, international organisations based in Rome (FAO, WFP, IDLO, IFAD, and Bioversity International), Vatican media and diplomatic missions. The panel presentations were followed by a lively question and answer session.


The Embassy’s 2014 IWD seminar attracted similar numbers and the three panelists were (left to right below): Ana Cristina Betancourt, Head of the Women’s Section at the Pontifical Council for the Laity; Lucetta Scaraffia, editor of the women’s supplement at the Vatican newspaper, l’Osservatore Romano; and Maria Cristina Carlo Stella, Head of the Office of the Fabbrica di San Pietro (management of St Peter’s Basilica, and related facilities and services.)


Each of the panellists spoke about women's achievements and the challenges that they continued to face from the perspective of their own personal and professional experiences. The high-calibre presentations were well received by a highly appreciative audience.

A celebration of Australia’s relations with the Holy See

Australia and the Holy See celebrated more than four decades of diplomatic relations in 2014 and the centenary of apostolic relations.

The anniversary year was capped off by the first visit of a Secretary for Relations with States (Foreign Minister), then Archbishop (now Cardinal) Dominique Mamberti, to Australia at the invitation of the Australian Government and the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.

Archbishop Mamberti was also guest of honour at the Embassy's main anniversary event on the evening of Monday 28 April 2014, when he addressed a large gathering of more than 150 civil and ecclesiastical dignitaries and Australian religious in Rome. 

In a written message, the Foreign Minister the Hon Julie Bishop, MP, commended the many men and women who had contributed to the strong relationship between Australia and the Holy See, describing it as a relationship defined by mutual trust and shared values.


In another key anniversary event on 28 April 2014, His Eminence Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Secretary of State (Prime Minister) of the Holy See celebrated a Thanksgiving Mass, concelebrated with His Eminence Cardinal George Pell, AC, and other Australian and Holy See clergy and seminarians. It was well attended by a large number of invited guests. 


In the context of the anniversary celebrations, the Embassy also facilitated the presentation to Pope Francis of a portrait painted of him by Chinese-born Australian artist, Shen Jiawei. The presentation was attended by His Eminence Cardinal Pell, Ambassador McCarthy Professor Wayne McKenna, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the Australian Catholic University, which sponsored the portrait, and Mr Shen and his spouse, Ms Lan Wang.


The Australian Embassy to the Holy See particularly thanks the Australian Catholic University for sponsorship of the portrait gift project


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