Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Chisholm, Australia's next saint?

A second Australian saint could be on the cards as supporters of Catholic pioneer Caroline Chisholm push for her beatification.

Chisholm, who died in 1877, was known as “the emigrants’ friend” for her work in helping single women and families settle in Australia and for rescuing homeless girls in colonial Sydney.

The Friends of Mrs Chisholm are preparing historical data to petition the Vatican for her eventual rise to Sainthood, The Age reported.

To be considered for sainthood, supporters will need to establish signs of two miracles — intercessions in response to prayer from beyond the grave.

A public campaign, including the printing of prayer cards and a new website, will be launched next year to coincide with the 200th anniversary of her birth.

Chisholm has always been held in high regard and was the first woman other than a monarch to feature on Australian currency, gracing the $5 note until 1992.

But the path to canonisation could be problematic as Chisholm died in England and the process of seeking sainthood needs to be triggered by the local bishop there.

Friends of Mrs Chisholm spokesperson Clara Geoghegan spokeswoman said what makes Chisholm special was her conviction and faith.

“I don't think what she did was possible by mere human effort,” Ms Geoghegan said.

"She was responding to the call of the Holy Spirit to deal with the contemporary issues of her day.

“At the very least she is as deserving as Mary MacKillop (of sainthood), but what she didn't do was to work in the name of the church.”