Commemorative Medallion from the 29th International Eucharistic Congress that belonged to Arthur Calwell #2010-0261
Small circular metal medallion. Obverse has an image of Pope Pius XI; reverse has an image of St Mary’s Cathedral and the inscription ‘29TH INTERNATIONAL EUCHARISTIC CONGRESS, SYDNEY SEPT 1928’.
This medallion is part of a collection of objects that belonged to Arthur Calwell, Australia’s first Minister for Immigration (1945-49) that were donated to the museum by his daughter, Dr Mary Elizabeth Calwell.
This medallion belonged to Calwell and was issued in 1928 to commemorate the International Eucharistic Congress held in Sydney (that Calwell attended), a major event in the history of Australian Catholicism. Its ‘vast assemblages’ were the subject of ‘vigorous Protestant criticism’, in the words of historian Patrick O’Farrell (O’Farrell, 1977). Although primarily an event in Australian religious history, such public demonstrations of the extent and loyalty of Catholicism in Australia had a substantial impact on the highly sectarian politics of the period, in which the Catholic Church’s close association with the Australian Labor Party became a matter of trenchant public debate.