Wednesday 7 January: When Australian Catholic University (ACU) student Vanessa Forcella began her degree several years ago, she never imagined that meeting His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI would be on the cards.
But last month the Liverpool resident was one of six Australian university students who travelled to Rome to join Cardinal Pell in receiving an icon commissioned by Pope John Paul II in 2000.
Known as the Sedes Sapientia, the icon has been travelling through European countries and has now been entrusted to Australian students to inspire them to bring Christianity to life in their universities.
“I was one of the last to go up to the altar at St Peter’s Basilica to meet His Holiness -my heart was pounding out of my chest and I was just trying not to get too overwhelmed,” Vanessa said.
“He asked me what I studied and he spoke in Italian which threw me a little – but honestly he could have just nodded and smiled and it would have been enough.”
“When I got back to my seat it all hit me and I started crying.”
The 21-year-old, who has finished exercise science studies, will begin a Diploma of Education at the Strathfield campus this year.
“The whole experience was just amazing and something I never thought I’d actually be able to do,” she said. “I felt very blessed.”
Australian Catholic University (ACU) – established as Australia’s only Catholic, national, publicly funded university – is open to all. The University empowers its students and staff with a strong sense of social responsibility and concern for the moral and ethical dimensions of their study and their professional and personal lives.