Monday, November 8, 2010

Outspoken Australian Woman made a Saint

That's Mary MacKillop, now known as St Mary of the Cross, sculpted by John Elliott in St Stephen's Cathedral, Brisbane.

Not an inappropriate name, given her history and the attempts of perverted and conniving priests to make this courageous and unswerving woman go away - but when did the Catholic Church ever demonstrate any great regard for the work of women or the welfare of children?

Here's what Ynes Sanz wrote about her in  Fanny the Flying Housewife & other stories, 2009.

Two Marys
Mary Helen MacKillop, also known as Saint Mary of the Cross 1842 — 1909

i St Stephen's Cathedral, Brisbane

come away
from the frankincense
and chasubles

in a dim-lit chapel
stone walls chisel-ticked
enclose a stillness

inhale this new scent
calling up old linen
and young women's dreams

behind a rood-screen
of scribbled tree slabs
is a sanctuary

imbued with the spirit
of camphor laurel
one hundred years in growing

a figure looms from a plinth
no-eyes becoming eyes
under your grateful gaze

woman and tree both
wild and problematical
stout beauty at their heart

light a candle for her
and see in its flicker
Mary striding on

ii St Francis' Church Melbourne
For the poet's daughter, artist, 1970 —

Here Friends,
we see the Bless├ęd Mary,
aloft against a creamy ground,
flowers at her feet,
in the niche where we placed her,
waiting for the day
that she becomes a saint.
You may be surprised
at her meek demeanour
and downcast eyes,
but we like to remember
a compliant heart
may be found even
inside a rebel breast.
We see in her statue
a symbol of Women's
Work in worship.
See the fine detail
made by our master sculptor.
Note the work in the gilded crucifix
woodgrained rosary and
simple prayer book
so skilfully painted as if worn with constant use.
What's that you say?
The statue's painter
was a woman?
No I was not aware,
but come, let me show you,
head-high to your right,
another of the Church's
treasured works of art.
© Ynes Sanz 2009

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