Australian Embassy
Holy See

2016 Events


19 November 2016 - Consistory

Papal Consistory elevating 17 clerics to the Cardinalate at St Peter's Basilica, including Papua New Guinea's first Cardinal.

5-7 October 2016 - 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.

4 October 2016 - 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

25 September 2016 - 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.

24 September 2016 - 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

17 September 2016 - 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).

8 September 2016 - 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).

4 September 2016 - 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.

29 July 2016 - 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), [email protected] or [email protected]