Australian Embassy
Holy See

2010-2015 Events

Pending Approval


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 The event, at the Turkish cultural centre in Rome, was inspired by a Turkish-language book based on previously unpublished documents from the Vatican Secret Archives about the wartime role of Holy See and Turkish authorities in locating battlefield graves of allied servicemen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

International Women's Day 2015

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 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.

Cardinal Pell Concelebrates Memorial Mass in Rome for the Victims and Families of the October 2002 Bali Bombings

On 12th October 2012, a Memorial Mass for the 10th Anniversary of the 2002 Bali Bombings in Indonesia was concelebrated by His Eminence George Cardinal Pell, Archbishop of Sydney in the Chapel of Our Lady Queen of the Most Holy Rosary and St Peter Chanel, Domus Australia. The Memorial Mass was offered for the victims and their families. Concelebrating with Cardinal Pell were Most Reverend Timothy Costelloe SDB, Archbishop of Perth (Western Australia), Right Reverend Christopher Prowse, Bishop of Sale (Victoria) and twelve priests. The three Australian prelates were in Rome as delegates at the XIII Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, on The New Evangelization. The bombings of venues for holiday makers on Bali were the deadliest acts of terrorism in the history of Indonesia. 202 from people 21 countries were murdered, including 88 Australians, 38 Indonesians, 28 British and 7 Americans. 240 others were severely injured, many with horrific burns. Many more lost loved ones or had their lives and families shattered. In his homily, Cardinal Pell recalled the horror of the terrible tragedy that struck Bali 10 years ago, which killed so many people. He commended the souls of the deceased to the mercy of God and in reflecting on the intention of the Memorial Mass, said “Most of all, we pray for the survivors and their families that God will give them strength and peace.” The Memorial Mass was well attended by Diplomats to the Holy See and the Australian and Indonesian communities in Rome. Ambassadors to the Holy See present included HE Budiarman Bahar (Ambassador of Indonesia), HE Nigel Baker (British Ambassador), HE Miguel Diaz (American Ambassador) and HE Thomas Hong-soon Han (Ambassador of the Republic of Korea). The Right Reverend Dr Steven Croft, Bishop of Sheffield, in Great Britain, a Fraternal Delegate at the Synod, also attended to represent the Anglican Communion. Monsignor Joseph Murphy, of the Secretariat of State, represented the Holy See. A family group from Bali, now living in Rome, attended in traditional national costume. The Memorial Mass was jointly sponsored by the Australian Embassy to the Holy See and Domus Australia. The Australian Ambassador, at the conclusion of the Mass, thanked all those who were involved in the preparation and celebration of the Memorial Mass. HE John McCarthy, KCSG, Australian Ambassador to the Holy See.

The Australian Girls Choir in Rome 2012

On 25 September 2012, the Australian Embassy to the Holy See hosted a lively and spirited performance by the Australian Girls’ Choir in Rome’s historic Caravita church where the young Mozart, among others, had performed.
Before an audience of over a hundred from the Vatican Curia, its diplomatic corps and the general public, the Choir performed a mixture of spiritual and folk music to general acclaim.The next day, the Choir performed before His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI and thousands of pilgrims at the General Audience in St Peter’s Square. It was a very special moment for Australians to hear the Choir’s own version of "I Still Call Australia Home" in the most celebrated Square in Rome.

Relic of St Francis Xavier touring Australia

On 13 September 2012, the Australian Embassy to the Holy See held a reception to mark the departure for Australia of one of Rome’s most treasured relics. The Holy Relic of St Francis Xavier, his right forearm encased in a silver reliquary, will be sent to 24 Catholic church dioceses around Australia over a three month period. The Relic has previously toured in pilgrimage to Italy, France, Spain, Malta, Portugal and Japan. The Relic is normally found in Church of the Gesu in Rome, which has housed the Relic since 1641. Speaking at the reception, Bishop Peter Comensoli, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Sydney, noted that devotion to holy relics is a venerable tradition in the Catholic Church and that St Francis Xavier (1506-1552) is one of the Catholic church’s Patron Saints of Australia. He added that the Relic of Francis forms a central part of the Australian Catholic Church’s celebration of its Year of Grace.
Bishop Comensoli thanked the Australian Embassy to the Holy See for its assistance and Qantas Airways for their assistance in bringing the Relic to Australia. The reception was attended by senior Vatican officials including the Most Reverend Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation, and by members of the diplomatic corps including His Excellency, Mr Nigel Baker MVO OBE, of the British Embassy to the Holy See which assisted in transit arrangements.

International Women's Day 2012

For the 101st anniversary of International Women\'s day, 8 March 2012 the Australian embassy to the Holy See held a seminar at its chancery on the issue of people trafficking. The principal speaker was Sister Eugenia Bonetti, the Director of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Office of the Italian Union of Major Superiors(USMI), who spoke of her experience in assisting women victims of sex trafficking in Italy and Africa. Sr Eugenia declared that “we need to acknowledge that slavery still exists in the year 2012 and that the majority of its victims are women and children who do not choose to become prostitutes, but are forced into it by a variety of different circumstances.” She spoke of the physical risks facing women on the street and the dangers they face in trying to break free from sex trafficking rings. In 2000, Sr Eugenia was appointed by USMI to establish a counter-trafficking office in Rome to assist, protect and reintegrate victims of human trafficking who were seeking help. In Italy, Sr Eugenia noted that through USMI, 250 sisters from different congregations, work to help hundreds of victims of people-trafficking to rebuild their lives. Sr Eugenia is the author of two books on the subject of women and people trafficking. Her presentation focussed on efforts to help women in escaping trafficking networks and, where necessary, assistance in reintegrating them back into their home communities. She has also been instrumental in founding a shelter in Benin City for those victims either returning voluntarily or forcefully repatriated to Nigeria from Italy. The event at the Australian Embassy was well attended by an audience of female representatives from the Vatican, the Vatican diplomatic corps, Caritas Internationalis and various NGOs.


Food Insecurity seminar

On 5 October 2011, the Australian Embassy to the Holy See held a Conference on Food Security for an audience of Vatican officials, NGO representatives and diplomats accredited to the Vatican and to the FAO. Guest speakers were Mr Julian Cribb, former CSRIO (Australia’s premier scientific research organisation) official and author of "The Coming Famine: The Global Food Crisis" and Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, head of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. Speech by Julian Cribb Speech by Mons. Sanchez Sorondo In introducing the speakers, Ambassador to the Holy See at that time, Mr Tim Fischer, noted the importance Australia gave to this issue and referred to the speech of 29 September by then Foreign Minister, Mr Rudd, on the current challenges to global food security.


The Hon Kevin Rudd, MP, Foreign Minister at that time, and all party delegation were in Rome for the Canonisation of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop.

Then Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd led an all party delegation to Rome. The Hon. Julie Bishop, Senator Barnaby Joyce and Senator Ursula Stephens all joined the celebrations for the Canonisation of Mary MacKillop. View photos here Then Foreign Minister Rudd formally opened the New Chancery to the Holy See Opening speech available here

Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop

Find information about St Mary MacKillop (Australian Catholic Church website on Mary MacKillop) and more Information on the Sisters of St Joseph (link to the Sisters of St Joseph site).