Australia to have its first Roman Catholic saint
Australia will have its first Roman Catholic saint after Pope Benedict approved a decree recognising a miracle about intercession of Mother Mary MacKillop.
Australia will have its first Roman Catholic saint after Pope Benedict approved a decree on Saturday recognising a miracle attributed to the intercession of Mother Mary MacKillop, a 19th century nun.
The approval means MacKillop, who was briefly excommunicated, is likely to be formally declared a saint at a canonisation ceremony next year.
MacKillop, who lived from 1842 to 1909, is famous in Australia for having founded the Sisters of St. Joseph, an order dedicated to helping the poor.
She was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1995.
The miracle approved on Saturday involved the healing of a person who had cancer and was cured after praying to MacKillop.
"Today is a special day not only for the sisters but also for Australia and the universal Church. It is a day to acknowledge Mary who is not only truly saintly but also one of Australia's true heroes," the current head of the order, Sister Anne Derwin, said in the statement.
MacKillop is renowned for her work among the poor in colonial Australia. Born to Scottish parents in 1842 in Melbourne, just a few years after the city was founded, she had a poor upbringing as the eldest of eight children.
After working for a time as a governess, at the age of 24 she founded the order of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart with Father Julian Woods, a priest interested in improving Catholic education in what were then Britain's Australian colonies.
They opened their first school in a disused stable in Penola, South Australia, in 1866. MacKillop's work at times brought her into conflict with the Catholic hierarchy and she was excommunicated for five months between 1871 and 1872.
In 1885 she was removed from the leadership of the order she founded, but returned to lead it again in 1899.
Today the Sisters of Saint Joseph still carry out charitable work in many parts of Australia, particularly the poorer rural areas, as well as in other countries, including New Zealand, Ireland and Peru, working among others with prostitutes, drug addicts, Aboriginal communities and refugees.
Reuters Last Mod: 19 Aralık 2009, 18:20