Vatican News staff reporter
The ITER EUROPAEUM initiative, marking the 50th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations between the European Union and the Holy See continues to bring new energy and ideas to many of Rome's churches.
The project, that aims to show and enhance the deep links between the European Union and its 27 Member States, and the Holy See was launched on 9 May, coinciding with Europe Day, and is scheduled to continue until 27 June.
During this period, each Sunday, liturgical celebrations, concerts and guided tours take place in churches or basilicas that are connected to one of the EU member states.
On Sunday, 31 May, EU Ambassadors will visit the Irish National Church, of St Isidore, near Rome’s Via Veneto.
Speaking to Vatican Radio’s Mario Galgano, the Irish Ambassador to the Holy See, Derek Hannon highlighted the bonds the EU and the Holy See have in common:
From your point of view, how are diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the EU and how does your country collaborate with these relations? What common challenges are faced?
Relations between the Holy See and the EU are excellent as Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said after her recent meeting with Pope Francis. The EU sees the Holy See as a promoter of justice in the world and a defender of human rights. My sense is that the Holy See views the EU as a zone of stability and as a stabilising force in an increasingly fractured international landscap
Ireland has been a fully-committed member of the Union since we joined in 1973 and we are fully engaged across the spectrum of the Union’s activities. Within the EU Ireland echoes the views of the Holy See on many issues including for example Migration which is so close to the concerns of Pope Francis and also on Nuclear Disarmament. We both agree that even the possession of nuclear weapons is unacceptable and have signed and ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
How does the Irish community live in Rome?
The Irish have had a strong presence in Rome and in the Vatican going back a long, long time. Like many older communities, the Irish community in Rome is fully integrated into the life of the city. Rome remains a favourite place of pilgrimage for many Irish people and they arrive here in large numbers throughout the year, though obviously not in the past year.
How will you celebrate the Iter Europaeum in Rome?
On Sunday, EU Ambassadors will visit the Irish National Church, San Isidoro a Capo le Case, on Via degli Artisti near the Via Veneto and I will of course join them. St Isidore’s was established as a Spanish church in the early 17th century but ran into financial difficulties and was taken over by the Irish Franciscan Luke Wadding who transformed into a thriving centre for the training of priests to minister in Ireland. We will be welcomed by the Guardian Fr Hugh McKenna and given a guided tour of this beautiful church which has been in Irish hands almost continuously for the past 400 years.
The Iter Europaeum is a great way of reminding us of the deep and abiding historic connections between EU member States, the Holy See and the wider Eternal City.