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Br O'Malley's Vatican honour

author: Catriona Banks

16 Nov

Br O'Malley's Vatican honour

College Archivist Ms Catriona Banks recently toured Europe and came across a fascinating piece of SPC history holding pride of place in the Vatican.

It is amazing where little pieces of Ballarat can be discovered across the world. 

Our St Patrick’s community would be very aware of Brother William Theodore (Bill) O’Malley, and his remarkable legacy at the College. 

He has recently been the subject of a portrait which now proudly hangs in the chapel at Domus Australia in Rome, Italy.

Almost two years ago I was contacted by renowned Australian portrait artist, Paul Newton for images of Br O’Malley. 

Paul had been commissioned by Cardinal George Pell (SPC 1949-1959) to paint a portrait of the man who had such a dramatic impact on him as a young school boy in Ballarat so many years ago. 

Several images of Br Bill were sent to Paul, and in due course, the portrait was completed and transported to Rome, where it hangs in the beautifully renovated Chapel of St Peter Chanel.

Domus Australia was established by the Catholic Church in Australia which purchased and renovated the historic building situated in central Rome, and was formally opened by Pope Benedict XVI in October 2011. 

It is a peaceful and friendly environment, and offers 32 spacious guest rooms and a lovely central internal garden courtyard. 

There are Australian touches everywhere, and it feels like a home away from home. 

I had the opportunity to visit Domus Australia in Rome in early November, and was put in touch with Annie Casey, Manager of Guest Relations. 

Annie made my children and me very welcome and gave us a tour of the entire complex, including the Roman ruins which were uncovered during the renovations some years ago and are now preserved and on display. 

The highlight of the tour was seeing the final product of the many images I provided to Paul Newton, hanging in the chapel amongst several other notable Australian religious figures. 

It is truly amazing to think that such a legend of St Patrick’s College will now hold a permanent place, being honoured as an exemplar of the teachings of the Christian Brothers and recognised as one of the leading Catholics in our country’s history.