April 28, 2021
By Sister Mary Sullivan
Catherine McAuley evidently thought the Sisters of Mercy and their companions in merciful action could learn something centrally important from St. Catherine of Siena. In the 1830s, when she composed the original Rule of the Sisters of Mercy, using the Rule of the Presentation Sisters as her guide, she inserted references to Catherine of Siena in two places.
In listing the saints to whom the sisters were to “have particular devotion,” she added Catherine of Siena. In composing the chapter on the “Visitation of the Sick,” a main ministerial work of the Sisters of Mercy, she named Catherine of Siena as one of “the most eminent saints [who] devoted their lives to this work of mercy.” Catherine of Dublin saw the saint of Siena as an inspiring exemplar of Jesus Christ’s “great tenderness for the sick,” and of care for Christ’s own human body “in the persons of the suffering poor” (Rule 3.2).
Although Catherine McAuley said nothing in the Rule about honoring the feast day of the mother superior of a community (a title she never used of herself), those at Baggot Street regarded her feast day—that of Catherine of Siena (now on April 29, then on April 30)—as a day of celebration.Read More