27 March 2009: After nine years travelling to every corner of the world – from Russia and Slovakia to Ecuador and Peru, the Icon of Our Lady Seat of Wisdom has finally arrived at Australian Catholic University (ACU).
Father Stephen Astill SJ blessing the Icon
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, 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.
The artwork was blessed by University Chaplain, Jesuit Father Stephen Astill SJ at ACU’s North Sydney Campus this week.
Father Astill said he felt joyful when he first saw the Icon removed from its container.
“We were delighted to receive the Icon and ponder on the image and its ‘message’ - the message that wisdom, a divine quality, comes to human beings because they are made in God’s image and likeness,” he said.
“ The ‘Sophia Tradition’ of Biblical and secular thinking proposes wisdom as a feminine quality; the Blessed Virgin Mary, who has had the most mystical and physical encounter of any human (apart from Jesus himself!), harmonises so many things of faith, hope and love; but also of trust, availability, and generosity.”
The Icon will spend this year traveling around Australia - providing a focal point for the ministry and campus life of thousands of Catholic students across the nation.