Visit to the Holy See for the Canonisation of Blessed Mary MacKillop

Media release

Canberra

8 October 2010

Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd today announced that he will travel to the Holy See and Rome from 15-19 October 2010, as the senior Australian Government representative at the Canonisation of Blessed Mary MacKillop.

The delegation will include the Hon Julie Bishop, Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Senator the Hon Ursula Stephens, and Senator Barnaby Joyce, forming a bi-partisan Australian delegation. The canonisation ceremony will be presided over by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI on 17 October 2010.

The canonisation will create Australia's first Saint, and recognises the contribution Mary MacKillop made to the betterment of Australian society during her lifetime (1842-1909) and her continuing inspiration through the work of the Sisters of Saint Joseph – the order of nuns she founded.

"An estimated 8,000 Australians are likely to attend the canonisation, demonstrating how important this landmark event is to the Australian community," said Mr Rudd.

Mr Rudd plans to attend a number of events hosted by the Sisters of Saint Joseph to mark the canonisation, including an event showcasing Australia's Indigenous culture, in conjunction with the National Museum of Australia and the Vatican Museums.

Mr Rudd will also attend a Vigil presenting Mary's life in song, drama, prayer and liturgy, and a Mass of Thanksgiving celebrated by Cardinal Pell.

While in Rome, Mr Rudd will officially open the Australian Embassy to the Holy See's new chancery office near the Vatican.

"The new chancery demonstrates Australia's commitment to maintaining a resident mission to the Holy See, and strengthening our engagement with the Holy See on global issues of importance to Australia," said Mr Rudd.

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