Final Months

Pope Gregory XVI confirmed the Rule and Constitutions of the Sisters of Mercy on June 6, 1841, but Catherine McAuley did not receive the approved document, in Italian, until three months later.

Her energies in the summer of 1841 were occupied with retreat instructions for postulants and novices, preparations for reception and profession ceremonies on August 19, and plans for the departure of the founding party to Birmingham on August 20. In Birmingham, she was tired and confined to one room, her cough worsened by fresh air. En route home, she visited the site of the future convent in Liverpool, and took her companion, a novice, to visit her parents who were grieving the death of her sister. Back at Baggot Street by September 21 she saw a physician who declared her right lung "diseased." Making light of his verdict, she nonetheless delegated some of her responsibilities to her assistant, though she herself wrote loving letters to many sisters, scarcely mentioning her illness.

At the end of October she became bed-ridden, and was anointed on November 8. Only on Wednesday, November 10, was her condition generally recognized as beyond hope of recovery. As she lay dying on November 11, fully aware of the fatigue and sorrow of those around her bed, she made one last request: she asked a sister to tell the community to "get a good cup of tea-I think the community room would be a good place-when I am gone & to comfort one another-but God will comfort them." She died that evening at ten minutes to eight, and was buried the following Monday, in the newly created cemetery at Baggot Street. A handmade sign was hung in the House of Mercy, begging the solicitude of the poor girls and women whom she so loved: "Pray for the soul of poor Catherine McAuley."

June 6 1841

Gregory XVI confirms the Rule and Constitutions of the Sisters of Mercy.

June 14 1841

Mary Clare Moore returns to Baggot Street from Bermondsey, and a week later goes to Cork to resume the role of superior.

July 5 1841

The decree of papal confirmation of the Rule is promulgated in Rome. Cardinal Fransoni sends this information to Dr. Murray on July 31, with copies of the approved text in Italian.

August 19 1841

Four young women destined for the foundation in Birmingham profess their vows at Baggot Street. Mary Vincent Whitty, future founder of the Sisters of Mercy in Brisbane, also professes her vows on this day, as does Mary Justina Fleming, who will die on December 10.

August 20 1841

Catherine McAuley draws up her will. In the evening she and the founding party for Birmingham sail to Liverpool and proceed by rail to Birmingham.

August 21 1841

Catherine McAuley founds a Convent of Mercy in Birmingham.

September 6 1841

Mary Juliana Hardman, who professed her vows on August 19, is appointed superior of the Birmingham community.

September 6 1841

Catherine McAuley sends instructions to Teresa Carton at Baggot Street about preparing space for her in the infirmary.

September 6 1841

Catherine McAuley sends instructions to Teresa Carton at Baggot Street about preparing space for her in the infirmary.

September 20 1841

She leaves Birmingham, arrives in Kingstown on the morning of September 21, and proceeds to Baggot Street.

September 26 1841

She writes to Mary Aloysius Scott in Birr, saying she has seen Dr. William Stokes twice. He says her right lung is "diseased."

October 12 1841

Writing to Frances Warde about "some evident mistakes in the copy of our Rule," Catherine McAuley adds: "I have felt the last bad change in the weather very much."

October 18 1841

She asks Charles Cavanagh to secure £20 bequeathed to her by Mrs. Ryan.

October 1841

Unaware it has been received, Catherine McAuley again asks Mr Cavanagh to secure the £20. This is apparently her last extant letter.

October 1841

Catherine McAuley becomes bedridden. She is suffering from pulmonary tuberculosis complicated by an abscess.

November 8 1841

Redmond O'Hanlon anoints her on Monday night.

November 11 1841

Catherine McAuley signs the codicil to her will. She is visited by her brother James, his wife Frances, Dr William Stokes, and several priests, including Redmond O'Hanlon, Myles Gaffney, and Walter Meyler. She asks Teresa Carton to "tell the Sisters to get a good cup of tea – I think the Community Room would be a good place – when I am gone, and to comfort one another, but God will comfort them" (Mary Vincent Whitty to Mary Cecilia Marmion, November 12, 1841). Catherine McAuley dies, about ten minutes to eight in the evening.

November 15 1841

After the Solemn Office and Requiem Mass, she is buried in the earth, like the poor, as she had wished.