The Death & Burial of Catherine McAuley (1778-1841): Her Convent & Tomb ...

Looking into Catherine's grave. © MIA 2011. Photo: David Knight

Catherine McAuley’s Death:

In the evening of Thursday, November 11, 1841, Catherine McAuley, the founder of the Sisters of Mercy, died of tuberculosis at the Convent of Mercy on Baggot Street, Dublin—the first of twelve convents she had established in the preceding decade. She was surrounded by members of the Baggot Street, Booterstown, and Limerick communities, some of whom have left written eye-witness reports. Mary Elizabeth Moore (1806-1868), superior of the convent in Limerick, wrote ten days after Catherine McAuley’s death to the superior of the Mercy convent in Tullamore (founded in 1836):

She died the Death of the Just. Cautious as she was from bringing herself into notice unnecessarily in Health she was still more so in sickness, waiting on herself even in her last agony, preserving to the last moment the same peace and serenity of mind which so eminently distinguished her through Life . . . .her first and last injunction to all was to preserve union and peace amongst each other . . . .       

. . . . About five in the evening she asked for the candle to be placed in her hand. We commenced the last prayers. . . . When we thought the senses must be going and that it might be well to rouse attention by praying a little louder, she said: No occasion, my darling, to speak so loud, I hear distinctly. In this way she continued till 10 minutes before 8 when she calmly breathed her last sigh.

I did not think it possible for Human Nature to have such self-possession at the awful moment of Death but she had an extraordinary mind in Life and Death. (Letter to Mary Ann Doyle, 21 November 1841)

Read the complete article by Mary C. Sullivan rsm