Dr Miriam Rose Ungunmerr Baumann AM, a renowned Australian Aboriginal elder, educator and artist from the Northern Territory and the Diocese of Darwin, will be visiting the Vatican from 29 May to 3 June 2023.
She is expected to meet with Pope Francis in what will be her first trip from Australia’s ‘outback’ to Rome.
Dr Ungunmerr Baumann trained in a Catholic mission school in her rural community near Darwin and went on to become the first fully-qualified Aboriginal teacher in Australia’s Northern Territory.
Her presence in Rome during what Australians refer to as National Reconciliation Week will add special significance to a year which also marks the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Australia and the Holy See.
The week’s main event on Tuesday, 30 May will be an evening reception at the Vatican Museums where Dr Ungunmerr Baumann – whose art blends traditional Indigenous elements with Christian themes – will unveil a piece specially commissioned for the anniversary year.
On Wednesday, 31 May there will be roundtable discussions on inclusive education and a discussion on integral ecology and Indigenous spirituality will take place on Thursday,1 June.
The week will conclude with a lecture on the impact of the 1992 ‘Mabo’ judgment, a landmark legal victory for Indigenous rights in Australia.
In addition to a private audience with the Pope, Dr Ungunmerr Baumann will also get a chance to meet with senior figures from the Vatican, diplomats, and representatives of Catholic Church networks in Rome.