Miracles Down Under: Meet Australia’s First Saint

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REUTERS/Tony Gentile

Catholic Aussies celebrated Australia’s very first saint Sunday, as Mary MacKillop, along with five other proclaimed miracle-makers formally described as “Blessed,” was canonized. (via CNN)

MacKillop—who during the 20th century posthumously progressed from “Servant of God” to “Venerable” to “Blessed”—became St. Mary of the Cross MacKillop 101 years after she died. The co-founder of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart was born in Melbourne in 1842, the first of her Scottish parents’ eight children. She helped support her poor family before starting a small school in 1866, becoming a nun soon after.

MacKillop’s documented “miracles” occurred in 1961 and 1993, when two women recovered from cancer after praying to her (seems there was some relic cloth involved as well).

In recognizing MacKillop as a saint, Pope Benedict XVI focused on her service to the destitute in the Australian outback—“She attended to the needs of each young person entrusted to her, without regard for station or wealth, providing both intellectual and spiritual formation”—but some may look to her for her less-publicized (at least by the Vatican) role in correcting Church abuses.

Back in the 19th century, MacKillop had been excommunicated from the Church for five months. Among the reasons—if not the reason—she was excommunicated was because sisters in her order reported a priest was guilty of child sex abuse. So, some have wondered, is she the Patron Saint of Whistle-blowers or the Patron Saint of Sexual Abuse Victims?

If relics aren’t your thing, Newsfeed recommends celebrating with the commemorative stamp instead.