Aussie battler Mary Mackillop has been rejected for sainthood by his holiness Pope Benedict XVI, suggesting the miracle of Sophie Delezio just wasn’t enough for the German pontiff.

It had been anticipated that with the second miracle of Sophie Delezio surviving two horrendous car accidents against medical odds, after a lady with Leukaemia was miraculously cured, Mackillop would be canonized as part of the World Youth Day celebrations.

But when Benedict hit up the Mary Mackillop chapel in North Sydney yesterday he praised her as an ‘outstanding figure’ in Australian history instead, no doubt disappointing the bevy of nuns on his trail.

Becoming a saint is no easy feat, one must either die as a martyr or perform two miracles. And being a martyr isn’t much fun, just ask French Saint Jean-Gabriel Perboyre, who was strangled to death on a cross at Ou-Tchang-Fou, China.

Since the mid 1900s a crew of five Italian doctors check out the validity of your miracle and at least three of the five must agree that ‘the hand of God has prevailed where science faltered’. The modern age of medicine makes it a bit harder to claim medical miracles, apparently surgery is how Delezio survived, her mother’s prayers to Mackillop notwithstanding.

Most of the saints canonized by Pope John Paul II lived in medieval times so their miracles were impossible to disprove.

Former priest Paul Collins said on the ABC’s Lateline that the late Pope John Paul II was a bit saint happy, canonizing catholics left right and centre. In the time JP was Pope he created 480 saints, more than had been canonized in the 500 years before he was annointed.

Prerequisites for sainthood usually involve miraculous healing of a person but can include stigmata, levitation, incorruptible corpses, and visions.

St. Gianna is a patron saint for mothers, physicians, and fetuses, canonized in 2004. Gianna martyred herself, choosing to give birth and die rather than have an abortion like her doctors told her. Elizabeth Comparini prayed to Gianna when she had pregnancy complications, the baby’s survival was said to be a miracle.

Saint Pio of Pietrelcina is most famous for his stigmata, but the miracle that got him canonized in 2002 was ‘miraculous healing’ after prayer.

Lacking a miracle performance in her lifetime and with the added bonus of modern scientific skepticism and a much less saint enthused Pope on the job, Mary Mackillop might not be up for another hundred years or so. But best of luck to the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart in their quest to put an Aussie in the Vatican hall of fame.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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