Australian bishops gathered at the Rome pilgrim centre Domus Australia for the Dedication of the Altar Mass as their Ad Limina visit drew to a close last night.
The St Peter Chanel Chapel at Domus Australia, recently restored, looked magnificent as the bishops, clergy and religious from both Australia and Rome, guests gathered for the special mass celebrated by Cardinal Pell and concelebrated by Archbishop Denis Hart of Melbourne, Archbishop Barry Hickey of Perth and Bishop Geoffrey Jarrett of Lismore.
The Rector of Domus Australia, Fr Anthony Denton, also assisted Cardinal Pell.
It is in this Chapel where Pope Benedict XVI will come on Wednesday to officially open Domus Australia.
The St Mary’s Cathedral Choir, under the direction of Thomas Wilson, has travelled to Rome for the official opening but was also singing at the Dedication of the Altar today.
The voices of the 23 boys and 12 men in the choir filled the chapel with sacred music, providing a wonderful contribution to the Mass and a stark contrast to the noisy and destructive riots in Rome during the past 24 hours.
The choir sang the Litany of Saints which was followed by the placement of relics beneath the altar including those of St Peter Chanel and St Mary of the Cross MacKillop.
The Rite of Dedication of the Altar followed with the Anointing, Incensing, Covering and Lighting of the Altar.
The celebration of the Eucharist followed while the congregation quietly reflected on the restoration and artworks of the Chapel which included paintings by Sydney striker Paul Newton and Melbourne artist Louis Laumen who created the new crucifix.
Cardinal George Pell said after the Mass; "The Rite of Dedication of the altar is central to the three events we are celebrating at the opening of Domus Australia as a pilgrimage centre. And the heart of the centre is the Chapel.
"It was wonderful to have all the bishops here with us as well as the Australian seminarians studying here in Rome. I think it was certainly a very beautiful Service."
The official opening with Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday will be streamed live on the Archdiocese of Sydney website Xt3.
The link for this is xt3.com/domus.