In 2009, in memory of New Norcia’s late Abbot, Fr Placid Spearritt, the Community established a scholarship that will bring a scholar to New Norcia each year to work on a specific project using the monastery’s archival material. The results of the research would then be made available to everyone interested in Australian history.

Recently, the Abbot and the Archives Research and Publications Committee announced the new Abbot Placid Spearritt Scholar for 2020. As a result of an excellent proposal for the translation of a unique document, University of Western lecturer Marta Pérez Rey has been awarded the scholarship.

Marta comes from the green and mountainous region of Cantabria on the northern coast of Spain. She has lived in England, Spain and Ireland but for the last nineteen years has called Perth home.

Marta graduated with an MA in English Philology and a Master of Education from the University of Oviedo, Spain, and has been a certified NAATI translator (Spanish into English) since 2011. She is currently a tutor and lecturer in Spanish at the University of Western Australia as part of their Spanish major programme.

She has two young children and her dream is that one day they too will speak Spanish fluently. When she has time, her main interests include travelling, linguistics and foreign languages, reading, listening to music and teaching.

Her project will be the transcription and translation of Br Francisco Marsá’s New Norcia diary which covers the period 1849 to 1853, the exact years that Bishop Salvado was in Europe looking for new recruits and funding. The diary was donated to the archives in 2005 by Californian Friend of New Norcia, Darryl Corti. He purchased it from an antiquarian book dealer who had chanced upon the diary in the catalogue of a Spanish antiquarian book dealer. The diary has never been translated but as Francisco Marsá was a printer and an educated man, it is expected to shed much new light on the mission’s early years.

We all welcome Marta to her new role and wish her every success in this project.

Peter Hocking

If you have any queries or require further information, please contact Peter Hocking at