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A Mystery is Solved!

In Term 2, an archive exhibition in the McAuley Resource Centre featured footage of the Academy community in the 1950s-1960s. While the footage featured some easily recognizable events such as school sports days and an alumnae reunion, there was one event that even alumnae from that period could not identify. This event showed a statue of Our Lady on the back of a truck, in a field that appeared to be on the grounds of the Whitefriars Carmelite Monastery in Mitcham with a large group of Academy students, Archbishop Mannix and thousands of other attendees.


One of our dedicated alumnae took it upon herself to do some further investigation. After trawling through old newspapers and microfilm at the State Library of Victoria, she identified the event as the Sixth Annual Carmelite Marian Festival and Car Pilgrimage in 1956. 


In 1951, the first Marian Festival was established to commemorate the 700th anniversary of the brown scapular being given by Our Lady to St. Simon Stock, Prior General of the Carmelite Order. Each year a different Catholic girls’ school was represented at the festival, and students from the Academy attended in 1956. The nearly 30km pilgrimage began at the Carmelite Church in Middle Park and went via Albert Rd, Alexandra Avenue, Yarra Boulevard, Xavier College in Barkers Rd, Holly Redeemers Church in Mont Albert Rd and the Statue of Whitehorse on Whitehorse Rd before reaching Whitefriars Monastery in Mitcham. The 1956 Festival attracted 30,000 attendees and a police escort. By 1961, interest in the Festival was dwindling with only 15,000 attendees.


















Olivia Parkinson Archivist

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