Icon that inspired students the world over hits Oz

17 Dec 2008

By therecord

The pro-active Australian Catholic Students Association has personally travelled to the Holy See to pick up an icon they hope will inspire students around Oz as it has overseas.


By Anthony Barich

The Australian Catholic Students Association (ACSA) will host the historic Marian icon Sedes Sapientiae on behalf of the university students of Australia after a delegation took part in a handover ceremony in Rome on December 8.
Hosted by the Archdiocese of Sydney chaplaincy, the icon will tour universities of Australia for nine months. An itinerary is yet to be released.
The icon was used when Pope John Paul II recited the Rosary with university students of Rome in 2001, when the pontiff entrusted their missionary efforts to “Mary, Sedes Sapientiae (Seat of Wisdom)”.
ACSA has entrusted itself to Holy Mary, Mother of God under the title “Sedes Sapientiae” as assigned by Pope John Paul II as a gift to students in The Great Jubilee Year of 2000.
At that time, Pope John Paul II said: “I entrust your journey to Mary, Sedes Sapientiae, whose image I entrust to you today, so that she may be welcomed as a teacher and a pilgrim in the university campuses of the world. Mary supported the Apostles with her prayer at the dawn of evangelisation; may she also help you to invigorate the university world with a Christian spirit.”
The tour is an initiative of the Vatican Office for Universities, headed by Monsignor Lorenzo Leuzzi.
ACSA Vice President Xavier O’Kane, who was part of their delegation which also included representatives from the Archdiocese of Sydney Chaplaincies, said the icon has toured several countries in Europe and further afield, but this is the first time it will be in Australia.
“It will be a great opportunity for students in Australia to deepen their understanding of Christ’s place in the university,” Mr O’Kane said. 
On its pilgrimage to Australia, it is envisaged that the icon will visit universities across the nation.
The icon’s tour of Australia will include an international university student prayer vigil in March, and the ACSA National Conference in Brisbane from July 10-12, when organisers hope to top their record attendance of over 300 in July last year.
Over 300 registered delegates attended in July last year when ACSA, who jointly hosted the event Australian Catholic Youth Adults, the biggest ever attendance.
ACSA president, Brisbane-based science-nutrition student Elise Nally, said that “like the powerful envangelisation which accompanied the journey of the World Youth Day Cross and Icon, we hope that this icon will promote greater devotion to Our Lady.”
“We hope it helps many students to form a stronger Catholic identity on university campuses.”