Mother Mary MacKillop becomes 1st Australian Saint

VATICAN CITY (AP) - Her work among the needy in the 1800s has led to Mother Mary MacKillop's elevation as Australia's first saint.

Pope Benedict today announced he had approved the elevation to sainthood during a ceremony at the Vatican and set the formal canonization for Oct. 17 in Rome. Five others - from Italy, Spain, Poland and Canada - will be canonized at the same time.

MacKillop founded the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph, an order that built dozens of schools for impoverished children across the Australian Outback, along with orphanages and clinics for the needy.

MacKillop is credited with spreading Roman Catholicism in Australia and New Zealand.

The strong-willed advocate was also excommunicated once but later exonerated by a church commission.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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