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Europe

Pope canonizes Australia's first saint, five others

At a ceremony at St. Peter's Square in Vatican City, Pope Benedict XVI canonized six saints, including Australia's first, Mary MacKillop. A Canadian and four Europeans were also given the honor.

Faithful hold a sign of Mary MacKillop

Many Australians traveled to Rome to honor MacKillop

Tens of thousands of people gathered at St Peter's Square for Sunday's Mass on Sunday. While many of the attendees were from the new saints' countries of origin, the most attention was given to Australia's first saint, Mary MacKillop.

At the canonization, Pope Benedict XVI told the crowd he commended MacKillop for setting an example for educators through her work in the 19th century teaching the poor in rural Australia.

"For many years countless young people throughout Australia have been blessed with teachers who were inspired by the courageous and saintly example of zeal, perseverance and prayer of Mother Mary MacKillop," Benedict said.

The pope leads the canonization Mass at the Vatican

The pope celebrated Mass at St. Peter's Square

MacKillop was born in 1842. She started out on her own teaching poor children in Australia, but when others joined her, she created a new order called the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart.

In 1871, she was briefly excommunicated from the church in a fight for control of her order and for denouncing a pedophile priest. MacKillop died in 1909. Australian activists have said she should be named the patron of victims of sexual abuse by priests because she was punished for exposing it.

At Sunday's ceremony at the Vatican the pope also canonized two Italian nuns, Giulia Salzano and Battista Camilla da Varano, Spanish nun Candida Maria de Jesus Cipitria y Barriola, Brother Andre Bessette of Canada, and Stanislaw Kazimierczyk of Poland. He asked that "throughout the Church they be honored devoutly among all the saints."

Official delegations to the celebration included Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski and Australia's foreign minister and former premier Kevin Rudd.

Komorowski had attended an audience with Benedict on Saturday during which the process of the beatification - a preliminary step towards canonization - for late Pope John Paul II was discussed.

Author: Matt Zuvela (AFP/AP)

Editor: Sean Sinico

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