Priest taking Aboriginal Madonna to France

Catholic Mission National Director Fr Terry Bell is taking a copy of a painting of the Aboriginal Madonna to Lyon in France as part of celebrations to mark the restoration of the home of the founder of the Society of the Propagation of the Faith.

The Propagation of the Faith is one of three societies administered by Catholic Mission. The Society of the Propagation of the Faith is the church's chief tool of support for the day-to-day running of young churches and offers spiritual healing and practical assistance to communities with the greatest needs.

Each May Fr Bell attends a meeting of about 130 National Directors of Catholic Mission (known internationally as the Pontifical Mission Societies), usually in Rome. But this year's meeting is scheduled for Lyon, so the directors can take part in the inauguration of the house of society founder Pauline Jaricot this week.

Each National Director will bring a representation of Mary to the house on Thursday.

Fr Bell said he chose an image of an oil painting of the Aboriginal Madonna because of its unique Australian character. The original painting of the Virgin Mary and Child as Australian indigenous people hangs in St Mary's Cathedral in Darwin.

Ironically the painting, completed in the 1960s, was done by a French artist, M. Karel Kupka, of Paris.

The house, which Pauline Jaricot bought in 1832 and named after the famous Marian shrine in Italy, has been restored over the past two years and will become a place of pilgrimage.

"The restoration will raise awareness of Pauline Jaricot, which is a good thing because we want her to be canonised," said Fr Bell. "The striking thing about her is that she was a girl of 16 when she started Propagation of the Faith. As a teenager she saw the need then found a way to address that need."

The national directors will spend four days at their annual general assembly discussing financial and policy matters and funding requests. They will also be addressed by the new head of the Pontifical Mission Societies, Archbishop Henryk Hoser, SAC, as well as the Vatican's Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe. Although the possibility hasn't been ruled out, the new Pope Benedict XVI is not expected to attend.

Fr Bell will also visit the town of Ars, the home of St John Vianney, the patron saint of Parish Priests.

The annual Propagation of the Faith Appeal is currently rolling out in parishes across Australia until September.

Aboriginal Madonna returns to France (Catholic Mission 29/4/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
The story of Pauline Jaricot, 22 July 1799 - 9 January 1862 (Catholic Mission 29/4/05)
Catholic Mission
Pontifical Mission Societies
Society for the Propagation of the Faith (Catholic Encyclopedia)

3 May 2005