The Canonisation of Saint Mary of the Cross

Mary MacKillop was canonised on October 17th, 2010 at Saint Peter’s Basilica, Rome. Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed Mary’s sainthood during a canonisation mass, which was streamed live around the world.

Mary’s extraordinary life and faith were well known and acknowledged throughout Australia and the world.

Father Paul Gardiner was asked to go to Rome in 1983 to prepare a position for the case of making Mary MacKillop a saint. His job was to prepare documentary evidence and writing a full historical account of Mary’s life. This task took six years and resulted in three volumes of work, which was presented to the authorities at Congregation for the Causes of Saints at the Vatican. The cause for Mary MacKillop to be canonised was approved. Divine endorsement was then sought in the form of two miracles; one before beatification, the other before canonisation.

The First Miracle

The first miracle involved a 24 year old Sydney woman whose recovery from leukaemia was medically inexplicable. All information regarding this event was examined to determine whether the intercession could be attributed to Mary MacKillop. The decision was in favour of the intercession of Mary MacKillop.

Mary was beatified in Sydney on January 19, 1995 by Pope John Paul II. Mary now had the tiled of ‘Blessed’ and could be honoured in liturgy for Australia as our first saint.

The Second Miracle

Now a case had to be made for a second miracle. On December 19, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI approved the attribution of the remarkable cure of a woman with inoperable cancer to the intercession of Mary MacKillop. This was the final step required for canonisation. On February 19, 2010, Pope Benedict announced that Mary MacKillop would become Australia’s first saint.


Over 50,000 pilgrims gathered at the Vatican, in Rome, for the canonisation of Blessed Mary MacKillop. There were many Australian flags and gold balloons bearing Mary’s image. Pope Benedict XVI spoke about Mary’s achievements, noting her dedication to teaching. Australia has its very first saint.

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