Wooden cross containing the relic of Mary MacKillop presented to Sisters of St Joseph


Penola sculptor Guy Detot with Sister Maria Casey
Penola sculptor Guy Detot with Sister Maria Casey rsj, who will hand the wooden cross containing the hair relic of Mary Mackillop to Pope Benedict XVI during Mary MacKillop's canonisation. (Photograph courtesy of The Penola Pennant).

A wooden cross sculpture containing the hair relic of Mary MacKillop has been presented to the Sisters of St Joseph, ahead of its journey to Rome where it will form part of the Canonisation Ceremony of Australia's first Saint on 17 October.

Sr Maria Casey rsj, the Postulator of the Cause of Mary MacKillop, journeyed to Penola in South Australia (the home of the first school opened by Mary MacKillop) earlier this month, to place the hair inside the glass centre of the wooden cross reliquary, which is made from Australian red gum from Penola.

Three Penola area locals were involved in the making of the uniquely Australian reliquary: artist and sculptor Guy Detot, local farmer and wood turner Andy Clifford and leadlight artist Gavin Tobin. The important task of placing the hairs into the glass centre of the reliquary fell to Sr Maria.

The tiny hairs, which have been preserved for more than a hundred years, were placed in the shape of a cross.

“We were delighted with the outcome,” Sr Maria said. “It was very difficult to do, but to have the hairs in the figure of the cross is wonderful.”

As Postulator of the Cause of Mary MacKillop, Sr Maria will hand it to Pope Benedict during the Canonisation Ceremony.

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