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Gabrielle McMullen, left, in conversation with Barbara Skorupa at the launch of the exhibition (Melbourne Catholic)

An exhibition showcasing women of faith has opened at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne, with 24 pop art portraits by Cologne-based artist Barbara Skorupa. Source: Melbourne Catholic.

The exhibition features the faces of women from around the world – some of them saints – who have lived lives of faith and made contributions in the areas of medicine, health and education.

The collection includes Australians St Mary of the Cross MacKillop, Dr Sr Mary Glowrey, Eileen O’Connor and the lesser-known Josephite Sister Mary La Mercy Mahoney, who was the congregational leader of the Josephites at the time of Mary MacKillop’s death.

Melbourne Archbishop Peter A Comensoli launched the exhibition on Friday at ACU’s Cathedral Hall, with many of those in attendance from the religious orders and organisations set up by the women featured in the exhibition.

They included members of the Catholic Women’s League of Victoria and Wagga Wagga Inc. (previously The Catholic Women’s Social Guild) and the family of the world’s first “doctor-sister”, Dr Sr Mary Glowrey. Sr Glowrey lived in East Melbourne while studying and working as a doctor at the Royal Melbourne Eye and Ear Hospital and St Vincent’s Hospital. 

In conversation with Professor Gabrielle McMullen, who emceed the launch, Skorupa explained how the portrait series came about. She said she had visited Australia around the time of Mary MacKIllop’s canonisation and became “very impressed” with her story. 

Also featured in the collection is Adelė Dirsytė, a young Lithuanian teacher who became involved with Catholic agencies like Caritas. Dirsytė began working towards Lithuanian independence and in so doing became a political prisoner who was later jailed and sent to Siberia.

Skorupa said she felt a strong parallel between Dirsytė’s story and that of the recently deceased Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. She said Dirsytė’s remains have never been found.

Details: Great Women of Faith exhibition.


‘An invitation to our own holiness’: Great Women of Faith exhibition opens in Melbourne (Melbourne Catholic)