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Pope Benedict Announces First Australian Saint

Pope Benedict XVI has announced that Mary MacKillop, a Catholic nun who had dedicated her life to educating and caring for the poor, will become Australia's first saint.

The pope made the announcement Friday during a ceremony at the Vatican.

MacKillop was born near Melbourne in 1842 to Scottish immigrants. She was known for her work educating the poor and is said to have built her first school in a abandoned stable.

MacKillop - who went by the name Sister Mary of the Cross - was also known for being strong-willed and was sometimes at odds with church officials. She was briefly excommunicated by a Catholic bishop in 1871, but was was welcomed back to the church a few months later. She died in 1909.

MacKillop will be formally canonized as a saint in a ceremony October 17 in Rome.

Both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict recognized miracles attributed to MacKillop in which women who had prayed to the nun were apparently cured of cancer.

The pope also recognized for Sainthood 15th century Polish Priest Stanislaw Soltys Kazimierczyk, Italian nuns Giula Salzano and Camilla Battista Varano, Spanish nun Candida Maria de Jesus Cipitria, and Canadian Brother Andre Bessette. All will be cannonized at the same October ceremony.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.