A short report from a Rome Correspondent

Friday, 15 October 2010 13:56 Wendy Larkson Our Members Report - Members Report

Rome is filled with tourists most times of the year but it is especially bursting at the seams at this time due to the coming together of several canonisations this Sunday, the 17th October and also a taxi driver informed me, a pop concert in the Olympic stadium by some European hearthrob. The taxi driver is dreading the traffic and when I tell him I will be in St Peter's Square on Sunday for the canonisations - that is the bestowing of the title of special sanctity on a person who lived a life of love of God and love of fellow human beings - he was curious. When I told him Australia's first saint will be canonised - Saint Mary MacKillop, he was utterly delighted and send ' complimenti a tutti i Australiani' and repeated this several times. Soon to be Saint Mary Mackillop (15 January 1842 – 8 August 1909)  was an Australian nun born in the nineteenth century, whose family was originally from Scotland. 

She established a group of teaching nuns called the Josephites, whose mission was to teach the poor, and this she did with her companions all over Australia leaving more than one hundred schools when she died and over one thousand nuns to continue her work.

Her life was not easy as one Bishop wanted to take control of her order whereas the Roman bishops had thought it a good thing for Mary MacKillop to be head of her own order. She even ended up thrown out of the church and on the street at one stage . One kind Jewish man who liked and respected the sisters immensely because of their love for the poor, a Mr Solomon of Adelaide, gave the sisters accommodation for a year in one of his houses. What a beautiful act of human love that will always be in the sisters' memory. Before his death the irascible Bishop changed his mind and realised he had been wrong. In any case Mary MacKillop had a hard time of it and her patience alone is enough to merit canonisation.


To get accommodation in Rome at present is well nigh impossible. I tried at several places with no luck. Even some priests are without anywhere to stay. However I finally found a Bed and Breakfast place which is up three flights of stairs and has seen better days. However I knew I was in the right place when the manager , within a few minutes of meeting me, told me that 4 Italians had been killed in Afghanistan and that Islam was crazy. I sat down and agreed and were able to share perspectives on the dangers of Islam.

Meantime there are many Africans on the streets selling their wares here and one suspects they are Muslim. I do not know how they cope with the prevalent presence of dogs on the streets of Rome for Italians love their dogs and walk them everywhere some beautifully dressed in Dior looking outfits with even spalrkling sequins. This elevation of dogs into demi -gods is not exactly something that would warm a Muslim's heart. But I do not think the Italians will change for anyone. However while the ordinary people think one way, the Italians immigration authorities seem oblivious to the dangers of acceting large numbers of immigrants from Islamic countries. I just hope the dog population here stays the same and becomes a deterrent.

Meantime from a cobbled stone street in a little internet cafe near the centre of Rome, your Rome correspondent sends you warm greetings. If you see the canonisation on tv I will be one of the hundred thousand or more on the Piazza del Populo near the Vaticano. On such occasions the crowds spill over into the via del Conciliazione and the Borgo Santo Spirito- I'll keep you all in mind as I stand there cheering for Australia. Arriverderci from Roma to all.