Catherine McAuley

Catherine McAuley
(1778 – 1841)

In September 1827 Catherine McAuley established a ‘House of Mercy’ in Baggot Street, Dublin, Ireland. There she and several companions provided food, clothing, housing and education for many of Dublin’s poor women and young girls.

In 1831, with the approval of Archbishop Daniel Murray, she and her first companions founded the Congregation of Sisters of Mercy, the house in Baggot Street serving as its first convent.

Over the then next ten years, as new co-workers presented themselves, thirteen other convents, two of them in England, were established. Invitations to found further convents were by now reaching Baggot Street from many parts of the world.

Catherine died a holy death on 11 November, 1841. Within a few decades her congregation had spread worldwide. It is still one of the largest congregations of women religious in the Church.

On 9 April, 1990, by decree of Pope John Paul II, Catherine McAuley, Foundress of the Sisters of Mercy, was declared Venerable, in recognition of her holy life, her love of God and her merciful work among the poor. This is a major step in naming her a saint.

Catherine McAuley once wrote: “Mercy, the principal path pointed out by Jesus Christ to those who are desirous of following him, has in all ages of the Church excited the faithful in a particular manner to instruct and comfort the sick and dying poor as in them they regarded the person of our Divine Master.” (Original Rule, approved in Rome, 1841)