On this day in 1787, Mary was born the eldest daughter of Dr. David Aikenhead a Protestant of Scottish descent living in Co. Cork, Ireland, a wealthy doctor, apothecary and property owner and wife Mary Stackpole, an aristocratic Irish Catholic.
Mary was born for something special. Born into privilege, she learned at an early age to respect and support those less well off. At sixteen years old she converted to the Catholic faith.
In 1815, having spent time training for Religious Life in York, England, Mary returned to Dublin and founded the first Congregation of Sisters who would be out amongst the people – the Religious Sisters of Charity.
When Mary Aikenhead saw a need she responded. She sent Sisters to Sydney, the first Sisters to set foot on Australian soil; she sent three sisters to Paris to train as nurses and founded St Vincent’s Hospital, the first one to be staffed solely by women; she opened the first free school for girls in Upper Gardiner Street Dublin. On she went, forging with her Sisters new paths, responding to the needs of desperate people.
Read more on the life of Mary Aikeanhead here including her timeline
Annually we celebrate Mary Aikenhead on this day, admire her courage and hold to the Spirit which animated her throughout her life. May that Spirit of ‘giving to the poor what the rich can buy for money’ continue to live long into the future.
At a time when the world reacts to the Covid-19 pandemic we remember the importance of caring for those around us, friends, families, for the vulnerable, the elderly, and the less fortunate. Join us today in prayer to mark the celebration of the birth of our foundress.
Prayer in Time of Need
You blessed Mary Aikenhead
With deep faith and compassion
And gave her a special gift of love
For those in any kind of need
With this in mind and through
Her prayer I now ask
With great trust in your love
For me, O My God,
I leave my requests in your hands.