Over 50,000 people had gathered together in St.Peter’s Square, Vatican City, Rome to witness the canonization of Bl. Mary MacKillop on Sunday. She is the first Roman Catholic saint from Australia.
First born of Scottish migrant parents, she started working as a clerk and later a governess to help provide financial support to her large family. As a governess, she started educating the farm children in the estate where she stayed. This laid the foundation to her later work and ministry. In 1867 she founded the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart, the first order founded by an Australian. She started her first school along with two of her siblings in a stable in Penola, an establishment dedicated to the education of the poor. Before her death in 1909, many educational establishments had been set up by the Josephites in the outback or bush area where the people are poor and often uneducated. Today the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart has spread across Australia, U.K. and parts of South America. In 1965, prayer for MacKillop’s intercession apparently cured Veronica Hopson of terminal leukemia. She was beatified in 1995, when the church recognized this as a miracle. The 2009, a papal decree was issued recognizing the cure of Kathleen Evans from lung and brain cancer as the second miracle.
Around 140 Josephite sisters attended the canonization ritual. Uncontained tears of joy ran down their cheeks as they watched Pope Benedict XVI announce her sainthood in the ancient religious language of Latin. The canonization itself took a mere 15 minutes as Kathleen Evans as a representative of Saint Mary of the Cross took a relic to be blessed by Pope Benedict XVI.
The event was declared as a day of celebration for entire Australia.