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Pope honours Aussie friend

Earlier this month, Pope John Paul II honoured Signorina Concetta "Connie" Izzi, who worked in the Australian Embassy in Rome from 1950 to 1979.

A feature on the Brisbane Archdiocesan website says Signorina Izzi was responsible for assisting thousands of Italians in their search for a new start in Australia, especially during the tough years of Menzies immigration policy.

The article says very few people were aware that she was carrying out her work to settle Australians in Rome at a time when Australian diplomatic relations were "less than friendly to Australian Catholic priests" living, studying and working there.

Archbishop John Bathersby (Brisbane), Bishops Michael Putney (Townsville) and Peter Connors (Ballarat), Mons. Bill Mullins (Sydney), Frs. Ray Kearney and Peter Gillam (Brisbane) were some of the recipients of Signorina Izzi's hospitality and care. She often had the Aussies to meals and she was a friend at the Embassy.

In March this year, these bishops recommended her to Pope John Paul II, to be awarded the Cross Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice (pictured), as a sign of gratitude for her faithful care of Australians in Rome - which was regularly carried out in a manner above and beyond the call of duty.

The bishops requested that Fr Anthony Randazzo, who is currently working at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome, present the Papal Honour to Signorina Izzi on their behalf.

The presentation occurred on Sunday 20 June. Invited guests included Australian priests Frs. Julian Wellspring (Canberra-Goulburn), Kevin Taylor (Adelaide), James McEvoy (Adelaide), and Signorina Meggy Schelpe (Rome).

Connie was reportedly deeply moved by the Papal Honour, and in her humble and friendly manner, she asked several times, "Are you sure that they have they right person?"

Pope honours Aussie friend (Archdiocese of Brisbane 28/6/04)

Australian Embassy in Rome | Australian Embassy, Italy (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade)

29 Jun 2004