Perfect pitch: BLESSED MARY strikes chord for all


BLESSED MARY: A Saint for All Australians
Soul artist...Octavia Barron Martin rises to the role of Blessed Mary with grace and humility in 'BLESSED MARY: A Saint for All Australians'.

A review of 'BLESSED MARY: A Saint for All Australians' by Marty Webster

It is a great joy that the Foxtel History Channel's 'BLESSED MARY: A Saint for All Australians' rises so effortlessly to the tenor of its title.

It follows that a Saint for all Australians should be accessible to all Australians - and it is in this generous spirit that the world premiere of the History Channel docu-drama, airing this Sunday 10 October, pitches itself perfectly for viewers from all walks of life and spiritual persuasions.

The choice of popular broadcaster and advocate of everyday Aussie battlers Alan Jones as host, the lay terms and points of references woven into the hallowed narrative and even the ‘docu-drama’ genre itself – with its inherent benefit of stylish and timely dramatic interludes, re-enacting pivotal moments in Blessed Mary’s journey – combine to present a window into a life which people of all faiths and worldviews will comfortably access, identify with and draw inspiration from.

The genre also serves to bring to the fore the humanity of Mary MacKillop’s story. While the struggles she faced have become more generally known in recent times, recreating the relationships and dynamics at play within Mary’s immediate family and between herself and Fr Julian Tenison Woods, The Church and the world not only offers the viewer an empathetic appreciation of her trials, but also a sense of their enormity: Tribulation comes in wave after wave.

Strength and sympathy

BLESSED MARY: A Saint for All Australian
'A recognisably Australian Saint'.

It is a credit to the producers that the emotional context of Blessed Mary’s extraordinary journey isn’t confined to the set pieces of drama: it is documented with equal strength and sympathy in the interviews Jones conducts with Australian clergy and laity, as well as members of the order co-founded by Mary MacKillop, the Sisters of St Joseph.

In fact, the sheer ‘Australian-ness’ of Mary’s nature and spirit present throughout the hour-long production is perhaps best captured in just a few words from the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, when asked to describe Mary’s legacy:

She is a recognisably 'Australian Saint'…principled, tough…and an inspiration to others to 'get going and serve the people'.”

A special mention must go to the performance of Octavia Barron Martin as Mary MacKillop. Barron Martin excels, interpreting and portraying the title role with grace and humility.

From the picture painted of Blessed Mary during the course of the docu-drama, the delivery could not have been more fitting.

'BLESSED MARY: A Saint for All Australians' will premiere at 7.30pm this Sunday 10 October on the History Channel on Foxtel with an encore presentation on Sunday 17 October at 7.30pm shortly before the live telecast of the Canonisation of Mary MacKillop.

Exclusive to the History Channel, the DVD of 'BLESSED MARY: A Saint for All Australians' will be available from Wednesday 13 October at major outlets as well as from the Mustard Seed Bookshop, Lidcombe, Australia Post, Woolworths, Big W and Mary MacKillop Place.

Watch highlights of 'BLESSED MARY: A Saint for All Australians' at the History Channel's website


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