The special title of our Lady for Universities and students is our Lady, Sedes Sapientiae, or "Seat of Wisdom". Jesus is the Word of God, the Eternal Wisdom, and it is through Mary that the Word, the Wisdom of God, is made flesh. Jesus seated on the lap of Mary, Mary the seat of Wisdom.
Pope John Paul II received a gift of a mosaic icon of our Lady, Sedes Sapientiae, from Slovenian artist Ivan Rupnik. The Holy Father gave this mosaic to the universities of the world during the Great Jubilee Year 2000. The image has been travelling around the world ever since, and was with us here at Newman House for the Feast of the Imacculate Conception in 2004. A group of about 20 students then accompanied the icon to Rome, where it was presented to Pope John Paul at what in the event was his last major public appearance, the Academic Mass in St Peter's Basilica on 14 December 2004. We were part of a united choir of students which sang the Mass. It was a spine-tingling moment when the choir burst into Tu es Petrus - You are Peter: and indeed there with us was Peter, Vicar of Christ.
Our happy band in the Piazza of St Peter's Basilica, before the Academic Mass.
Inspired by the pilgrim icon, a group of residents then began work on a mosaic based on the original. Led by Ian Mannion and Russell Hearn months of work ensued. It is not an exact copy, nor is it professional, but it is our very own! It is still awaiting framing (everything takes a long time at Newman House!!!!!) but it will be hung in our Chapel in due course. The mosaic was blessed by Cardinal Arinze when he visited Newman House following the Academic Mass.
We hope, in the new year, to start regular devotions to our Lady, Seat of Wisdom, to inspire us as students as we pursue knowledge in seeking truth as we follow the Wisdom of God, Jesus Christ.
Sedes sapientiae, Ora pro nobis