A home away from home

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Cardinal George Pell and 16 Australian clergy concelebrate Mass in Our Lady of the Rosary and St Peter Chanel Chapel marking the 10th anniversary of Domus Australia. Photo: Domus Australia
Cardinal George Pell and 16 Australian clergy concelebrate Mass in Our Lady of the Rosary and St Peter Chanel Chapel marking the 10th anniversary of Domus Australia. Photo: Domus Australia

Ten years to the day Pope Benedict XVI blessed and opened Domus Australia in Rome, Cardinal George Pell celebrated Mass there to mark the milestone.

Cardinal Pell, whose vision it was to have an Australian presence in the Eternal City, took the opportunity to thank the many people, especially those who had been with him since the beginning, who helped make his dream a reality.

“I was there on the happy day that Pope Benedict XVI blessed the new centre which has become a ‘treasured home-away-from-home’ for so many people while in Rome.”

Celebrations included a Mass in Our Lady of the Rosary and St Peter Chanel Chapel attached to Domus Australia, concelebrated by Rector Fr Bob Hayes and 16 Australian clergy living and studying in Rome, followed by a reception in the Crypt.

The Ambassador to the Holy See, Chiara Porro, Australian Ambassador to Italy, Margaret Twomey, and the Italian Secretary for the Economic Development Committee Senator Francesco Giacobbe, attended along with many of the Religious Congregations, Priests, Sisters and Brothers who have their Mother Houses in Rome.

Originally purchased by the Australian Church in 2008 from the Marist Fathers and following extensive renovations, Domus Australia was officially opened on 19 October, 2011.

Cutting the cake: Deacon Andrew Kwiatkowski, Cardinal George Pell, Rector Fr Robert Hayes and Domus General Manager Fabrizio Petrocchi. Photo: Domus Australia
Cutting the cake: Deacon Andrew Kwiatkowski, Cardinal George Pell, Rector Fr Robert Hayes and Domus General Manager Fabrizio Petrocchi. Photo: Domus Australia

Combining Italian history and charm with great Australian hospitality, Domus Australia features 32 private rooms, conference facilities and its own chapel offering an ideal base for pilgrims, groups, families and solo travellers alike.

The authentic boutique guest house located within walking distance to the Spanish Steps, Borghese Gardens, major cultural attractions and key shopping areas has become famous for the peace, tranquility and relaxed atmosphere it offers in the middle of the city.

“My prayer is that many more Australians will take up that call to pilgrimage in the years’ ahead, returning home with their faith renewed, as missionary disciples ready to reach out to all with love, joy and peace.”

Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP said that while he was disappointed COVID had prevented him from being part of the celebrations, he was very excited to see Domus Australia reach the milestone, and become a house of welcome to Australian Catholics and others on pilgrimage.

“I was there on the happy day that Pope Benedict XVI blessed the new centre which has become a ‘treasured home-away-from-home’ for so many people while in Rome,” he said.

“I have many fond memories of celebrating Australia Day Masses, ANZAC Day Masses followed by celebrations that bring together the Aussies working in Rome, as well as ambassadors from many nations including our Australian ambassador to the Holy See, Vatican officials, and even the odd Prime Minister.

Celebrating Mass in the Our Lady of the Rosary and St Peter Chanel Chapel, Cardinal Pell with, at left, Deacon Bijoy Joseph from the Sydney Archdiocese and Deacon Andrew Kwiatkowski from the Archdiocese of Melbourne. Photo: Domus Australia
Celebrating Mass in the Our Lady of the Rosary and St Peter Chanel Chapel, Cardinal Pell with, at left, Deacon Bijoy Joseph from the Sydney Archdiocese and Deacon Andrew Kwiatkowski from the Archdiocese of Melbourne. Photo: Domus Australia

“Though the road (or flightpath) to Rome is currently closed for the faithful from Australia, we look forward to embracing that spirit of pilgrimage in the future, and I know that Domus Australia will be an important rest-stop for many.

“My prayer is that many more Australians will take up that call to pilgrimage in the years’ ahead, returning home with their faith renewed, as missionary disciples ready to reach out to all with love, joy and peace. And I pray that Domus Australia will play its part in that.”

“We at the Archdiocese acknowledge and are grateful to the staff at Domus, some of whom have been with us these past 10 years and also the Rectors and clergy who have served their time there.”

Over the past 10 years, Domus Australia has been home to over 46,000 pilgrims from all over the world including North to South America, Africa, the Middle East, Australia, New Zealand and beyond.

It has hosted guests during major events in the life of the Church such as World Youth Days, the Ad Limina of the Australian Bishops, as well as bringing a little bit of Australia to Rome each year, as it commemorates ANZAC Day and Australia Day.

The light-filled spacious rooms, large ensuite bathrooms, friendly staff, cleanliness and full hot Aussie breakfasts are major drawcards.

Celebrating the milestone are Fr Bob Hayes, Ambassador to the Holy See Chiara Porro, Australian Ambassador to Italy Margaret Twomey and Cardinal Pell. Photo: Domus Australia
Celebrating the milestone are Fr Bob Hayes, Ambassador to the Holy See Chiara Porro, Australian Ambassador to Italy Margaret Twomey and Cardinal Pell. Photo: Domus Australia

The Chapel and guest house features artworks, including paintings by award-winning Sydney artist, Paul Newton who created the acclaimed “Our Lady of the Southern Cross” for World Youth Day in Sydney (which hangs in St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney) and has completed a new interpretation of Our Lady for the Chapel of St Peter Chanel.

Michael Digges, Executive Director, Administration & Finance, Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney, said it is wonderful to mark this 10 year anniversary and reflect on all those pilgrims from around Australia and beyond who have had the opportunity of staying at Domus Australia which is truly a haven from the hustle and bustle of Rome.

“It has hosted guests during major events in the life of the Church such as World Youth Days, the Ad Limina of the Australian Bishops, as well as bringing a little bit of Australia to Rome each year, as it commemorates ANZAC Day and Australia Day.”

“Domus is truly a blessed place providing our pilgrims with the opportunity of not just visiting St Peter’s but also the basilicas and holy places in the Eternal City,” he said.

“We at the Archdiocese acknowledge and are grateful to the staff at Domus, some of whom have been with us these past 10 years and also the Rectors and clergy who have served their time there.

“Whilst the pandemic has been very difficult, Domus is now up and running again for European and US pilgrims and in 2022 we look forward to greeting, once again, pilgrims from Australia.”

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