Saintly daughter of Scotland honoured

Share this article

SHE was the daughter of 19th-century Scots emigrants who dedicated her life to religious service and the poor.

• An image of Mary MacKillop is projected on to the Sydney Harbour Bridge to celebrate her canonisation in Rome Picture: AFP

Now, more than a century after her death, Mother Mary MacKillop has been canonised by Pope Benedict XVI.

Admirers from Scotland and Australia were among tens of thousands of people who gathered in Rome to take in the celebratory open-air mass, which acknowledged the "courageous" work done by the nun.

Credited with spreading Roman Catholicism across Australia and New Zealand, the Pope used his homily to describe the Scots-Australian as a "shining example".

In Sydney, meanwhile, thousands converged to hold celebrations at the chapel where she is buried.

Others gathered in the city's Catholic cathedral, where a wooden cross made from floorboards taken from the first school MacKillop established was placed on the steps.

Descendants from MacKillop's ancestral home also gathered in St Peter's Square in the Vatican, with about 20 pilgrims making the trip from the village near Inverness where her parents once lived.

MacKillop was born in Melbourne in 1842, the eldest of Alexander and Flora MacKillop's eight children.

Her mother was born in Fort William, while her father was born in Lochaber.

There is a shrine to her at St Margaret's Church in Roy Bridge, where her parents lived before moveing to Australia. The nun visited the village in the 1870s.

Father Tom Wynne, the parish priest at Roy Bridge, was among those in Rome yesterday. The canonisation, he said, would establish MacKillop as a "role model for everyone".

He said. "It is holding this woman up as an example of what being a Christian should be. Follow her and you will be a saint as well."

MacKillop founded the Congregation of the Sisters of St Joseph, an order that built dozens of schools for impoverished children across the Australian Outback in the 1800s, as well as orphanages and clinics for the needy.

She was a strong-willed advocate who clashed with senior clergy and was briefly excommunicated, in part for exposing a sex-abusing priest. At the time of her death in 1909, she led some 750 nuns and ran a network of 117 schools.

In his homily, Pope Benedict praised MacKillop for her "courageous and saintly example of zeal, perseverance and prayer".

MacKillop was first beatified in 1995 by Pope John Paul II, who said Veronica Hopson had been cured of terminal leukaemia in 1961 after praying to her.

The nun became eligible for sainthood after the Vatican approved a second miracle attributed to her intercession, that of Kathleen Evans, who was cured of lung and brain cancer in 1993.

Other Scots saints, from Andrew to Drostan

• SAINT ANDREW: The nation's patron saint, left, and one of Jesus' first disciples.

• SAINT COLUMBA: The Irish priest who founded his famous monastery on Iona.

• SAINT NINIAN: The earliest known Scottish saint, he founded the first monastery in Scotland at Whithorn.

• SAINT MUNGO: Four miracles are attributed to the patron saint of Glasgow.

• SAINT JOHN OGILVIE: He was caught preaching Catholicism in Protestant Glasgow in 1615, and was subsequently hanged.

• SAINT FILLAN: Born in Ireland, the wandering monk was believed to have lived in a cave in Pittenweem, Fife.

•SAINT DROSTAN: The founder of the monastery of Old Deer in Aberdeenshire, water from the nearby St Drostan's Well is an ingredient in Aberlour malt whisky.

Back to the top of the page