Saturday, 22nd July marked the 165th anniversary of the death of the Venerable Mary Aikenhead, foundress of the Religious Sisters of Charity. She lived an outwardly simple life of loving service which concealed her extraordinary vision and strength of character. After receiving medical advice that she should move out of the city to the cleaner air of the countryside, Mary Aikenhead spent almost the last 30 years of her life as an invalid at Harold’s Cross. Bought from a Quaker family in 1845, the house was called “Our Lady’s Mount” by the Sisters and the Congregation’s foundress moved there in September 1845.
This period of Mary Aikenhead’s life coincided with the Irish Famine and along with her fellow Sisters, she spent the late 1840s helping those suffering in risk of eviction, starvation and disease. As her health deteriorated, Mary Aikenhead was confined to her room, though she continued to communicate with the Congregation through countless letters of advice, encouragement and challenge. Her vision, her compassion for those suffering pain and her courage was evident right to the end of her life.
Our Lady’s Mount is now the Mary Aikenhead Heritage Centre, which hosts a multi-faceted exhibition on the life of Mary Aikenhead as well as the work of the Congregation she founded. Her vision to found a religious congregation without enclosure broke the mould for female religious orders at the time, with members encouraged to work and serve their local community. Sisters were free to spread Christ’s message to the poor, those without an education, the imprisoned, the sick and the deprived. Her legacy continues today with congregational projects in homelessness, trafficking and work with the marginalised in our communities.
Thinking of our foundress, together we say a Prayer to Mary Aikenhead:
O God, You gave Mary Aikenhead a special gift of love for those in any kind of need.
With this in mind and through her prayer I ask (here mention your intention).
With great trust in your love for me I leave my request in your hands.
The Mary Aikenhead Centre, Harold’s Cross
Entrance is free of charge. To arrange a visit to the Heritage Centre, please contact Sr Mary at:
Mary Aikenhead Heritage Centre
Our Lady’s Mount,
Tel: 353 86 7247 660 /353 1 491 0041
Visit our webpage: https://rsccaritas.com/who-we-are/heritage-centre/
The Heritage Centre is situated within the grounds of Our Lady’s Hospice, Harold’s Cross in Dublin.
Dublin bus routes passing the Hospice are: 9, 16, 49 and 54a.