ACU student chosen to return Papal Icon to Rome

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

2 December 2009: Australian Catholic University (ACU) student, Christine Tesch, has been chosen as a member of the delegation travelling to Rome this month to return the Icon of Our Lady Seat of Wisdom.

Father Stephen Astill SJ blessing the Icon at the University's North Sydney Campus earlier this year Father Stephen Astill SJ blessing the Icon at the University's North Sydney Campus earlier this year

Known as the Sedes Sapientiae, the Icon was commissioned by Pope John Paul II in 2000, and has been entrusted to students around the globe to inspire them to bring Christianity to life in their universities.

The Icon plays a key role in a Catholic university living out its identity and mission.

After nine years travelling to every corner of the world from Russia and Slovakia to Ecuador and Australia - the Icon will be returned to Rome by the delegation and passed on to African students in the presence of Pope Benedict XVI.

A third year student at ACU's Brisbane Campus and President of the Student Association, Christine said that growing up in four different countries had made her passionate about unity, understanding, peace and justice.

ACU student Christine Tesch ACU student Christine Tesch

"I am also aware of how important it is to create and build bridges as we are all on a pilgrimage together," she said. "I see going to Rome as an opportunity to experience and explore that.

"Being selected to represent ACU in Rome is an honour and I feel very blessed by the opportunity. On my return from Rome, I am looking forward to sharing this experience with the University and wider community."

While in Rome, the delegation will meet with other students to discuss the role of Catholicism in university education, before the official handing over ceremony in St Peter's Basilica on 19 December.

The Icon, a mosaic depicting the Madonna and Child, was made by Slovakian priest Fr Marko Ivan Rupnik SJ. Its tiles are a Byzantine-style mixture of marble and ceramic in red, grey, brown, black, yellow, orange and gold gilt and the reverse is adorned with the seals of the many institutions it has visited across the world.

When presenting the Icon to university students of the world, Pope John Paul II said: "Make the University an environment where knowledge is cultivated, a place where the individual finds direction for the future, wisdom and inspiration for effective service of society."