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Brother André, Mary MacKillop, among 6 new saints to be canonized in October

February 19, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI will canonize 6 saints in a Vatican ceremony on October 17. Among the newly proclaimed saints will be Blessed Mary MacKillop, the first Australian native ever to be so honored; and Blessed André Bessette, the founder of St. Joseph's Oratory in Montreal.

The canonizations were approved at an ordinary consistory (a meeting of all the cardinals currently in Rome) on February 19. Also scheduled for canonization on October 17 are:

  • Blessed Stanislao Soltys (1433- 1489), a Polish religious;
  • Blessed Candida Maria de Jesus Cipitria y Barriola (1845- 1912), the Spanish founder of the Congregation of the Daughters of Jesus;
  • Blessed Giulia Salzano Heart (1846-1929), the Italian founder of the Sisters Catechists of the Sacred; and
  • Blessed Battista da Varano (1458-1524), an Italian Poor Clare nun.

Born in 1842 to Scottish immigrant parents in Australia, Mary Helen MacKillop took the name Mary of the Cross when she entered religious life. She instituted the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart-- the first religious order to be founded in Australia-- to teach the poor. Her determination and independence sometimes caused conflicts with Church officials, in she was even briefly excommunicated by Adelaide's Bishop Laurence Sheil--- who later apologized and reinstated the doughty nun. But she won the support of Pope Pius IX for her work, which quickly expanded. After her death in 1909, interest in her cause for canonization spread quickly in Australia; it became a political issue in that country last year, when Prime Minister Kevin Rudd drew criticism for having raised the issue during a private audience with Pope Benedict. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1995.

André Bessette, born in 1845 in Quebec, entered the Congregation of the Holy Cross in 1872, taking his final vows in 1874. He remained a simple Holy Cross brother-- serving for decades as a porter, or doorkeeper, for his community-- but gained a wide reputation for sanctity. Thousands of people flocked to Brother André for spiritual support, and many reported miraculous healings-- although the humble Brother André always insisted that he had no special powers. His devotion to St. Joseph led to the construction of the magnificent Oratory in Montreal, where his body was buried after his death in 1937. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1982.


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