ROUTE 1 doesn't often veer from music, movies and sports into the religious realm, but MARY MACKILLOP is a special case.
Pope Benedict XVI officially canonised MacKillop this morning, making the 19th century nun AUSTRALIA'S FIRST SAINT -- it's a monumental source of pride in a nation established more than 200 years ago as a penal colony overwhelmingly housing Catholics.
In 1860, MacKillop left her native Melbourne to teach in rural PENOLA, SOUTH AUSTRALIA. Here, with the REV. JULIAN TENISON WOODS, she founded the SISTERS OF SAINT JOSEPH OF THE SACRED HEART.
Aussies love to give things nicknames, so the order is known as the "BROWN JOEYS" for the original habit colors.
By 1869, there were 72 sisters in the order, teaching in 21 schools, an orphanage and a women's refuge.
The Brown Joeys focused on assisting Australia's neediest children.
The religious order's focus on the needy without regard for the Adelaide bishop's bureaucracy -- and the Brown Joeys' uncovering of a sexual-abusing priest -- had MacKillop briefly excommunicated. Six days before he died, the bishop lifted his excommunication order and admitted his mistake.
MacKillop died in 1909. The order continued to thrive. Today, about 850 sisters work throughout Australia and New Zealand and as far away as Peru.
The canonisation process is a long one and includes a pair of documented miracles -- two cancer patients who went into remission after praying to MacKillop.
Today, MacKillop took her place among the other saints. She's now known as SAINT MARY OF THE CROSS.
She's not just the first saint from Down Under. She's an Aussie role model.