On anniversary eve, the saint is in the details

Pope Benedict XVI with a tapestry showing St Mary MacKillop at her canonisation at St Peter’s Basilica on October 17, 2010 (CNS/Tony Gentile, Reuters)

How much do you know about the life of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop? To celebrate the 10th anniversary of her canonisation tomorrow, here are some lesser-known details of the life of Australia’s first saint. Source: Melbourne Catholic.

She was born in Fitzroy

Mary was born on January 15, 1842, at 7 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy (then "Newtown"), when the city of Melbourne was less than seven years old.

She was the breadwinner

Mary was 14 when she went to work to support her younger brothers and sisters. Her first job was as a governess for a family in Richmond. She also worked as a clerk at a stationer's, before moving to her uncle’s farm in Penola, South Australia, where she became a governess in 1860 and later a teacher.

She wanted to educate poor children

Mary knew that the only pathway out of poverty was education. In Penola, while teaching her uncle and aunt’s children, she included the other farm children on the estate. This led her to meet Penola parish priest, Fr Julian Tenison Woods, and together they founded the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart in 1866.

Her order grew quickly

Attracted to the vision of educating poor children, many young women came to join Mary and Fr Woods. By the end of 1869 there were 72 sisters teaching in 21 schools as well as an orphanage and a refuge for women in distress. By August 1871, their number had swelled to 120 women and 40 schools, convents and four charitable institutions had been founded. At the time of her death in 1909, 750 women had entered the Order. The Sisters of St Joseph had opened 117 schools with a total of over 12,400 pupils.

FULL STORY

15 things you didn’t know about St Mary MacKillop (Melbourne Catholic)

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Celebrating the 10th anniversary of Saint Mary MacKillop's canonisation (Sisters of Saint Joseph)

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