10 Mar 2017
March Southern Cross
Cover story – Mass on board Carabiniere
By Jenny Brinkworth and photo: Ben Macmahon
The recent visit to Adelaide of Italian navy frigate Carabiniere provided a unique opportunity for the Italian community to gather on board for Mass.
Archbishop Wilson was invited by the Italian Embassy to celebrate Mass on the ship which was moored at Outer Harbour from February 5 to 10.
It is believed to be the first time a Catholic archbishop has celebrated Mass on an Italian warship since 1938.
An area inside the ship was transformed into a place of worship with blue and red stripe curtains and the Italian naval flag above the altar, while members of the Mater Christi choir sang hymns in Italian.
Archbishop Wilson said he was honoured to be on board and thanked the sailors who greeted him with a whistle salute. He acknowledged the members of the Italian community who had played such an important part in the history of the Adelaide Archdiocese.
Commander Francesco Pagnotta told The Southern Cross that the crew was trying to have a Mass in each port for the local Italian community.
“I am very happy to have these people on board at our second stop in Australia,” he said.
Commander Pagnotta said the state-of-the-art ship had been “delivered” in 2015 and had conducted an anti-piracy campaign in the Gulf of Aden before travelling to England and now Australia for a five-month “surveillance of main traffic routes of international waters”.
“It’s about showing our Italian flag abroad,” he said.
The visit was conducted in conjunction with the Italian Government which is bidding for the Australian Government’s $35 billion Future Frigates contract. The vessel was made by Italian firm Fincantieri, which is competing against BAE Systems and Spanish company Navantia to build nine frigates in Adelaide. Construction is expected to begin at Techport in 2020 and create 2000 jobs.
Commander Pagnotta said he had enjoyed the opportunity to see some of the sights of Adelaide.
He and other members of the crew also attended a performance by renowned Italian pianist Ludovico Einaudi at the Adelaide Festival Centre on February 8.
Speaking to the Italian community after the Mass, he told them how other concert-goers had noticed his uniform and asked him if he was Italian and from the frigate.
“People were very kind to us and I said to the people at Mass that it was because of them that the Australian people respected the Italians so much,” he said.
During the ship’s visit to Adelaide, two open days were attended by more than 1000 people.