Benvenuto! Domus Australia open for business


Domus Australia News Story
Domus Australia Rector Fr Anthony Denton and General Manager Gabriel Griffa with the Rome pilgrim centre's first guests, mother and daughter Kirsty and Suzanne Marie Stewart.

Australia’s first pilgrim centre in Rome - Domus Australia - has officially opened, continuing the long established Church tradition of providing accommodation for pilgrims to holy places.

But Domus is much more than a place to rest. A religious and cultural centre for pilgrims to Rome, the centre provides a true Catholic pilgrimage experience, with daily Mass in English and an information centre providing the opportunity for visitors to Rome to learn more about the history of the Church and the many places of religious significance they should see while in Rome.

Domus has already welcomed its first two guests, mother and daughter Kirsty and Suzanne Marie Stewart. The Stewarts are on a tour through Italy and heard about Domus from their home in Adelaide and decided to book in.

They were welcomed to Domus by General Manager Gabriel Griffa and the pilgrim centre's Rector,Fr Anthony Denton.

"Everything looks so beautiful and brand new - it is very comfortable and something of which Australia can be very proud," Mrs Stewart said.

Mother and daughter enjoyed a good, hearty 'Aussie breakfast' in the courtyard on the first morning before heading off to explore the Eternal City - with all the advice and recommendations of Fr Denton.

They were planning to return for Mass with Fr Denton in the magnificently restored Chapel of St Peter Chanel. This will be one very special feature of Domus, daily Mass in English.

Strengthening Australia's link with Rome

Located at Via Cernaia, not far from the main railway station Termini, Domus Australia is a former student house of the Marist Fathers.

In December 2008, a group of Australian Dioceses, led by the Archdiocese of Sydney and Cardinal George Pell, bought the building to establish a new pilgrim house for visitors to Rome.

Cardinal Pell has often said a key aim in establishing the centre is to help tourists become pilgrims and is keen to welcome all Australian Catholics to Rome.

It also provides the opportunity to strengthen the link between the Catholic Church in Rome and the Catholic Church in Australia.

The creation of Domus Australia has also been welcomed by Pope Benedict XVI.

The complex comprises four main blocks surrounding a central internal courtyard.

It is a quiet and peaceful refuge from the busy tourist sites but not that long ago it wasn't so quiet.

The site has undergone massive restoration and renovation works. During this work, sections of a wall and flooring dating back to the 1st century was uncovered. This is now preserved and on display for visitors.

Domus can accommodate around 80 people in the 32 rooms which have their own ensuite bathroom, mini-bar, air-conditioning, heating, television and in fact all the extras you would expect in a hotel.

There is also a lounge room and bar, dining area and a rooftop terrace for an Aussie barbeque.

A conference area will accommodate around 150 people and there are special facilities for people with disabilities.

Cardinal Pell has been guiding the renovations and restoration from day one as well as the delicate restoration of the artworks.

Other artworks of leading Catholic Australian figures will be hung around Domus with Sydney artist Paul Newton commissioned to complete 32 paintings.

Some of his works, including a new Our Lady of the Southern Cross and a portrait of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop, have already been shipped to Rome.

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