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New book details work of Bishop Salvado at Benedictine mission


Author Dr Stefano Girola, left, with Mr David Balloni, the Italian Consul in Perth following the launch of Dr Girola’s book that detail the writings of Bishop Rosendo Salvado. Photo: Supplied

A new book that details the writings of Bishop Rosendo Salvado and his work among the Noongar people at the Benedictine Mission in the late 1800s was last month launched at a joint City of Subiaco-New Norcia function.

Author Dr Stefano Girola, Honorary Fellow, Faculty of Theology and Philosophy from Australian Catholic University (ACU), launched his new book, Report of Rosendo Salvado to Propaganda Fide in 1883, following his original doctorate research which looked at the policies and attitudes of the Catholic Church with regard to Indigenous Australians from 1885 to 1967.

The book, which has been translated from Italian into English, is a long report that Bishop Rosendo Salvado wrote to Propaganda Fide in Rome, providing a detailed account of the Benedictine mission among the Noongar people of Western Australia, illustrated by the origins, development and condition of New Norcia from 1844 to 1883.

Originally hailing from Milan and now residing in Brisbane, Dr Girola teaches European and world history at the University of Southern Queensland, and began translating the Salvado report in 2012 after receiving a New Norcia Abbot Placid Spearritt Memorial Scholarship.

The book was launched by Dr Joshua Brown from the University of Western Australia, organised by the Benedictine community of New Norcia, and attended by Mr David Balloni, Italian Consul in Perth, and Ms Heather Henderson, Mayor of Subiaco.

“Salvado is one of the most interesting figures in the history of colonial WA,” Dr Girola said of the Spanish monk who, after arriving in Perth in January 1846, famously walked “around 100 miles” north through bush to live among Aboriginal people.

“Until today, those interested in reading in English Salvado’s recollections of New Norcia had to rely on his historical memoirs… published in Rome in 1851 and translated into English only in 1977.

“Instead, the document I translated and edited carries the historical narrative on New Norcia up to 1883.

“This was a report that, in 1882, the Vatican Congregation of Propaganda Fide asked Salvado to write; following Rome’s orders, he composed a very detailed account… providing invaluable information to all those interested in the relationships between Europeans and Noongars in the 19th century.”

The resultant 307-page book, Report of Rosendo Salvado to Propaganda Fide in 1883, was launched along with the 22nd edition of the New Norcia Studies journal.

In a media statement from the ACU, the book has been described as a valuable primary source for those interested in the history of the Benedictine mission of New Norcia, or with an interest in Colonial Australia and the history of multi-cultural contact between Indigenous Australians and Europeans.

It is also a fascinating, first-hand account of the scandals that were being played out in the Perth Catholic diocese between 1847 and 1883, recording not only the missionary achievements, but also the setbacks and failures caused by the harsh climate, diseases, ecclesiastical politics and greed.

A comprehensive review of the book is underway by the Communications and Media Office.

SalvadoBookCover Nov15To purchase a copy of the book, Click Here.

Information courtesy Justin Bianchini, The Wanneroo Times