St. Mary Mackillop

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Shrine to St. Mary Mackillop

Near the entrance is a memorial to Blessed Mary MacKillop — Australia’s first saint.

She bids all pilgrims welcome to the Shrine, and as they leave, she sends them off with a blessing of peace.

Saint Mary MacKillop

(Born 1842 – Died 1909)

Icon of St. Mary Mary MacKillop with Relic of her Coffin
Icon of St. Mary Mary MacKillop with Relic of her Coffin

Mary MacKillop was born to Scottish parents in Melbourne on January 15th 1842, the first of eight children. Due to impoverished circumstances, she was educated at home by her father. He nurtured Mary’s keen intelligence with theology, philosophy and languages and imbued her with a profound love of the Catholic faith.

Between 1860 and 1862, Mary’s initial teaching career was as governess to the children of family relatives in Penola, South Australia, and Portland, Victoria. She founded her first school for young ladies in 1864 in Portland. Having been raised in hardship, Mary identified with the poor and those on the margins of society, particularly families living in rural areas.

In Penola, Father Julian Tennyson Woods, S.J., become her spiritual director. They shared a vision of bringing free education to the poor. In 1866, at 24, Mary and Fr. Woods co-founded the Order of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart.

Mary gave of herself tirelessly, establishing many orphanages and schools and assisting the destitute, the sick and the imprisoned with great devotion and courage. She had to endure the burden of opposition and calumny, leading to a period of excommunication from the Church. In complete obedience, Mary sought God’s will in all circumstances with absolute faith and trust.

She was beatified in Sydney in January 1995 by Pope John Paul II. She was canonised on October 17th 2010, during a public ceremony in St Peter’s Square at the Vatican – the first Australian to be so honoured by the Church.

The Most Reverend John J. Gerry, D.D., Auxiliary Bishop of Brisbane, blessed this chapel on May 27th 2000.

The relic enclosed with the icon is a piece of the original coffin in which the body of Mary MacKillop was buried (in 1909). A certificate of authenticity may be viewed enclosed behind the icon.

“We are but travellers in this world.”
(St. Mary MacKillop)