A Place of Pilgrimage: The Grave of Catherine McAuley
The earth grave in which the coffined body of Catherine McAuley was buried on November 15, 1841, is now sheltered by the small stone oratory built over the site in 1910 (Neumann, ed., Letters, 47). Of all the venues of pilgrimage at Mercy International Centre, Catherine’s grave is the most frequented and the most profoundly reverenced. Here people stand, alone or in groups, in the early morning, during the day, or at twilight. Here they sense the presence of the God in whose providence Catherine McAuley had such great confidence. Here they sing hymns or pray silently or aloud in her spirit, sometimes using the words of her own “Suscipe”:
My God, I am Thine for all eternity; teach me to cast my whole self into the arms of Thy Providence with the most lively unlimited confidence in Thy compassionate tender pity.
Grant, O most Merciful Redeemer, that whatever Thou dost ordain or permit may always be acceptable to me; take from my heart all painful anxiety; suffer nothing to afflict me, but sin; nothing to delight me, but the hope of coming to the possession of Thee, my God, in Thy own everlasting Kingdom. Amen. (Limerick Manuscript)
In this spirit pilgrims to Catherine McAuley’s grave privately ask her to intercede for them and then confidently abandon their needs to God. Sometimes they leave flowers, candles, or handwritten notes; sometimes they take photographs. Always they depart with peace and gratitude for this experience.
Mary C. Sullivan rsm