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February 22, 2010

Mary MacKillop will become Australia's first saint, Pope Benedict XVI declares

UPDATE 10.36pm: MARY MacKillop will become Australia's first saint, Pope Benedict XVI declared in a ceremony at the Vatican tonight.

The Pope formally announced he would canonise the Melbourne-born nun on October 17, in a service in St Peter's Square that could draw thousands of Australian pilgrims.

Australia's Sister Maria Casey was among those who attended the historic meeting to confirm Mary MacKillop's sainthood.

"Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be the one who would see it through to the end,'' said Sister Maria, who led the sainthood campaign.

"It's a rare privilege indeed.''

Mother Mary Mackillop

Holy See ambassador Tim Fischer said: "This is a terrific salute to an outstanding Australian, a giant leader in education and many other fields.''

About 100 people were invited to last night's gathering at the Apostolic Palace, the Pope's official residence overlooking St Peter's Square in Vatican City.

The group included dozens of Rome cardinals instructed to dress in full regalia for the ceremony, broadcast live on television for the first time in the church's history.

Bishops and key figures in the sainthood process such as Sister Maria were also present, with the ceremony held in Latin and including prayers and hymns.

Five other candidates from Canada, Poland, Spain and Italy will also be made saints at the same service on October 17.

Congregation for the Causes for Saints prefect Archbishop Angelo Amato was tasked with reading a summary of the work of Blessed Mary and the other candidates.

The decision comes after the Pope's December decree of Mary MacKillop's second miracle, for the cure of NSW grandmother Kathleen Evans of lung and brain cancer in 1993.

Mary MacKillop, who was devoted to educating the young and helping the poor and disadvantaged, died in August 1909.

Her sainthood will cap a remarkable turnaround for a woman who was once excommunicated after a dispute with the church hierarchy.

The process to make her a saint began in the 1920s, and her first miracle was decreed in 1961 after the recovery of a woman with leukaemia.

Interest in the latest round of sainthoods, particularly from Australia and Canada, has been so high that the Vatican decided to broadcast the entire meeting for the first time.

"This is the first time we will record and broadcast the entire ceremony,'' Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi said.

"We're very happy here in Rome that Mary MacKillop is to be canonised as we have experienced how important it is to Australia.''

Mary MacKillop would never have expected the honour, Sister Maria said.

"She would say if it helps people and it's the will of God she would go along with it. She would never look for it but she was very, very strong about doing what she thought God wanted her to do.''

A website will soon be launched for Australians to register their interest in attending.

Mr Fisher said there was a "great deal of affection and respect'' for Mary MacKillop.

"She was a strong leader, a compassionate worker for the poor and a pioneer in education,'' he said.

"I believe that it will help to boost knowledge of her work and boost Australia's profile in this busy competitive hub of Rome and way beyond.

"Yes it is a matter internal to the Church but believers and non believers who admire the work of Mary MacKillop will be very happy with this news and will be welcome in Rome, but it will be advisable to register with the Sisters of Saint Joseph web site.''



Sister Mary MacKillop Featured on Coin

1st of Inspirational Australians Series

SYDNEY, Australia, JULY 9, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Australia is honoring Blessed Mary MacKillop, who will likely be the country's first saint, by featuring her on a collector's coin.

Senator Nick Sherry, minister for Superannuation and Corporate Law, launched the Sister Mary MacKillop coin Tuesday.

The $1 uncirculated coin is the first of the Royal Australian Mint's series featuring inspirational Australians, which commemorates unique Australians who have made an extraordinary contribution to the nation.

ďAs the Australian peopleís saint, and someone who could be called Australiaís saint in waiting, Mary MacKillop is a fitting choice for the first coin in the Inspirational Australian series,&rdq uo; said Sherry.

He explained that Royal Australian Mint coin designer Vladimir Gottwald depicted MacKillop as "guiding future generations."

"Mary was an exceptional Australian woman who stands as an example of great courage, trust and compassion, and as our first saint, she will forever inspire our nation," said the senator.

Mary MacKillop was born in Victoria in 1842.

She founded the Order of the Sisters of St Joseph, the first religious order to be founded by an Australian.

Under the sister's guidance, the order established schools and charitable institutions across Australia and was devoted to the care of orphans, neglected children, the homeless, sick and aged. She died in 1909.

Pope John Paul II beatified Sister Mary MacKillop in 1995.



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