The Chapel

Located within the Boutique Guest House Domus Australia complex is a beautifully restored Chapel. The Chapel can seat up to 150 people and Mass in English is celebrated every day for guests and visitors to Rome. Confession is available before and after Weekday Mass, Monday to Saturday or on request.

The Mass times are:

• Monday to Friday 7:00 am (In English)
• Saturday and Vigil Mass 6:00 pm (In Italian)
• Sunday 9:00 am (In English)


Wonderful Artworks

The Chapel and the Domus feature some marvellous artworks, including paintings by award-winning Sydney artist, Paul Newton. Paul created the acclaimed “Our Lady of the Southern Cross” for World Youth Day in Sydney (which hangs in St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney) and has completed a new interpretation of Our Lady for the Chapel of St Peter Chanel.
Charting the Australian Catholic experience, Paul Newton’s series will also include portraits of pioneers of the Church such as Caroline Chisholm, Father John Therry, Blessed Mary MacKillop and founder of the Archdiocese of Sydney, Archbishop Bede Polding.

Portraits of Pope John Paul II, Cardinal Francis Xavier van Thuan and Mother Theresa and other outstanding Catholic figures with strong ties to Australia will also feature. A number of 19th and 20th century artworks originally in the Chapel have been beautifully and faithfully restored by a team of specialist art restorers in Rome. Such is the delicacy and intricacy of the work required, that it took one person approximately three months to restore each painting to its original splendour.

Restoring the Chapel

Mons Charles Portelli PP from the Melbourne Archdiocese advised on the extensive renovation work in the Chapel, which includes a new design of the altar, the sanctuary and the sacristy. The parietal decorations, marble walls and pillars, plaster work and wooden items have all been restored to their former glory by Bartoli Restauro e Ricerca SRL, with the floor completely replaced. Other works include the installation of heating, cooling, lighting, audio amplification, and new sanctuary furniture, including the ambo and the chairs for the celebrants.
The organ has also been fully restored by Ars Organi SRL of the Pinchi family, the same family that built the organ.


Consecration of the New Altar

The new altar in the St Peter Chanel Chapel was consecrated on Sunday 16 October 2011 at the Ad Limina Mass celebrated by Cardinal Pell and the Rite of the Dedication of the Altar in the presence of the Bishops of Australia, with St Mary’s Cathedral Choir singing.

Following an ancient and venerable tradition of the Church of Rome, relics of the Martyrs and Saints are enclosed inside the altar. The Domus altar now contains the relics of:

• Saint Peter Chanel, Priest and Proto-Martyr of Oceania
• Saint Andrew Dung-Lac, Priest, and Companions, Martyrs of Vietnam
• Saint Maria Goretti, Virgin and Martyr
• Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop, Religious, First Saint of Australia
• Saint Hugh of Lincoln, Bishop
• Saint Pius V, Pope.

The relics are deposited beneath the altar as a mark of respect and as a symbol of the truth that the sacrifice of its members has its source in the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church. The relic of Saint Mary of the Cross reminds us on the date of the consecration (the eve of the First Anniversary of her Canonisation), of our First Australian Saint.

The relic of Saint Peter Chanel was obtained from Saint Patrick’s, Church Hill in Sydney, the site where Catholics in a private house adored the Blessed Sacrament in the early colonial days before they enjoyed religious freedom or were permitted to have a Priest. The relics of the Vietnamese Martyrs remind us of the rich history of the Catholic Church and the diverse historical influences that have made the Church in Australia what it is today and will carry us into the future.

The crucifix by Louis Laumen of Melbourne

Louis Laumen created a life-sized, bronze sculpture of the Crucifixion, which was commissioned by Cardinal George Pell in 2007 and originally placed in the Seminary of the Good Shepherd Chapel in Homebush.
Cardinal Pell decided that the Crucifix would be better suited above the high altar of the Domus Australia chapel, so it was shipped to Rome early in 2011. The Crucifix took four months to create – two months making the clay model, and a further two months working with a foundry team to complete the moulding and casting work.

Louis works primarily with bronze, and uses an ancient ‘lost-wax-casting’ process, which was developed in China and dates back to 2000 BC. This process was used by the ancient Greeks, it was used in the Renaissance, and it is still used today because it gets a level of detail that you can’t get in any other process.


Ambo of the Apostles, by Nigel Boonham

The 1.6 metre high Ambo (lectern) is by Nigel Boonham, an English sculptor with whom the Archdiocese of Sydney has an extensive history. The Ambo of the Apostles was originally designed for St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney. The predominant, traditional format for a brass lectern is the Eagle on a Globe with open wings but Nigel wanted to make something different, in keeping with the theme of the Altar/Statues Triptych in St Mary’s, which depicts events in the last days of Christ’s life. It seemed appropriate to show the twelve Apostles of that time, even though this meant including Judas Iscariot.

However there was room in the design to put in St Matthias as well, the replacement twelfth Apostle after the death of Judas. After researching medieval lecterns in English Cathedrals, some superb mouldings from the Lincoln Cathedral lectern of 1669 gave Nigel inspiration to create the pillar that holds aloft the bookstand of the ambo. (Lincoln was also an inspiration to Wardell, the architect of St Mary’s Cathedral, for the East Window at St Mary’s). Traditionally the feet of an ambo are Lions, but His Eminence suggested kangaroos to be in keeping with the Australian setting.

This proved a happy suggestion although it was more difficult to engineer the support with the weight of the ambo just on their tails. The globe was incorporated further down the stem. The Ambo took about twelve months to plan, design and realise. It is probable that very few brass lecterns, similar in mass and scale to the original medieval lecterns, such as this, have been cast in perhaps the last 300 years. The Ambo is assembled from over 35 different cast or machined brass sections.

Identification of the figures on the Ambo:

• Front panel left to right: St James, St Andrew, St Peter, St John, St Mathew and St Thomas
• Right hand side panel left to right: Judas, St James the Just, St Philip
• Left hand side panel left to right: St Jude, St Simon, St Bartholomew
• Back Panel: St Mathias


Tel: +39 06 48 88 781

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