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The Church Up Close

Covering Catholicism in the Age of Francis

2020 Edition

Speaker Biographies


Axworthy, Sally

Mrs. Sally Axworthy has been the British Ambassador to the Holy See since 2016, after 5 years at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office as Head of Somalia Unit (2011-2013), and then as Joint Head of North Africa Department (2013-2016).

She joined the Foreign Office in 1986. In 1987 she was a Desk Officer covering Hungary and what was then Czechoslovakia. From 1988 until 1989 she spent a year learning Russian in preparation for her posting to Moscow in 1989 as a Third Secretary, Commercial. She remained in Moscow until 1991 when she was transferred to Kiev as a Second Secretary.

From 1993-1994, Axworthy returned to London as Head of the Political Section and the UN Directorate. After this, until 1996 she was seconded to the German Foreign Ministry, returning to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and living in Germany (Bonn). For two years, from 1998 until 2000, she was head of the Turkey, Cyprus & Malta Section before being posted to Government Office South West as Assistant Director.

On 19 September 2016, Axworthy presented her Letters of Credence to Pope Francis, beginning her mission as UK Ambassador to the Holy See.

She is married to Dr. Michael Axworthy and has four children.

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