Vatican City: Pope Benedict XVI gave Australia its first saint on Sunday, canonizing a 19th century nun who was briefly excommunicated and also declaring five other saints in a Mass attended by tens of thousands of people.
Speaking in Latin on the steps of St. Peter`s Basilica, Benedict solemnly read out the names of the six new saints, declaring each one worthy of veneration in all the Catholic Church.
"Let us be drawn by these shining examples, let us be guided by their teachings," Benedict said in his homily, delivered in English, French, Italian, Polish and Spanish to reflect the languages spoken by the church`s newest saints.
A cheer had broken out in the crowd when Mary MacKillop`s name was announced earlier in the Mass, evidence of the significant turnout of flag-toting Australians celebrating the humble nun who was briefly excommunicated in part because her religious order exposed a pedophile priest.
Even more MacKillop admirers_ an estimated 10,000 — converged Sunday at the Sydney chapel where she is buried and at Sydney`s Catholic cathedral, where a wooden cross made from floorboards taken from the first school that MacKillop established was placed on the steps.
Thousands of others in Australia spent their Sunday evenings watching live broadcasts of the Vatican ceremony on television in homes and on large outdoor screens in Sydney, in Melbourne where she was born, as well as in Penola where she established her first school.
Born in 1842, MacKillop grew up in poverty as the first of eight children of Scottish immigrants. She moved to the sleepy farming town of Penola in southern Australia to become a teacher, inviting the poor and the Aborigines of the area to attend free classes in a six-room stable.