Our Lady Of Mercy
One thing moved Catherine McAuley to action—the pity of God. Her heart was touched by the misery of the Dublin poor. Poverty of body was equaled, among many of them, by poverty of soul. The youth, brought up in the slums, were especially susceptible to the loss of the faith that had defied centuries of persecution.
There was, her practical soul pondered, only one remedy. If there might be a group of women who would educate themselves to the works of mercy among these people, some of the corporal and spiritual misery would be lifted. To feed the hungry, to give drink to the thirsty, to clothe the naked, to harbor the harborless—this she planned first; then, when the needs of the body were cared for; to instruct the ignorant, to counsel the doubtful, to pray for the living and the dead.
For a patroness of this venture, as old as Christ is old, she had not far to look. Our Lady had been a Mother to her all her life, especially since her parent’s death. The title, Mother of Mercy, had been dear to her when she learned of the ancient Order of Mercy that had ransomed the captives of the Turks, giving not only money for their return to Europe and their families, but often substituting for them, going into harsh captivity in the place of others – and all this in the name of Mary, Queen of Mercy, the Pitiful One.
“Sisters of Mercy” she would call her workers, patterning her life and theirs on Our Lady. With her and in her spirit, they would perform the works of mercy wherever the Holy Spirit led them.