Sisters Of, Or Order Of Our Lady Of Mercy Mercy, a religious order founded in Dublin by Miss Catharine McAuley in 1830. Miss Mc-Auley was born in Gormanstown castle, near Dublin, Sept. 29, 1787, and died Nov. 13, 1841. Her parents, who were Roman Catholics, died while she was a child, and she was brought up without any definite religious faith. But she became a Roman Catholic, and devoted herself and her large fortune to the service of the poor. She induced several ladies to join her, purchased a house in Dublin, and there in 3827 opened an asylum for destitute young women and a free school for poor children. Soon afterward she and her companions underwent a regular novitiate in a convent of Presentation nuns, and in 1831 assumed there the habit and took the vows of the new order. The rules first drawn up were sanctioned by the archbishop of Dublin, Jan. 23, 1834; but subsequently the rule of St. Augustine, modified to suit the active duties of the sisterhood, was adopted by them, approved by Gregory XVI. in 1835, and formally con-I firmed by him in 1840. The sisters of mercy spread rapidly over Great Britain and her colonies.
The first American house was established at St. John's, Newfoundland, in 1842, and the first in the United States at Pittsburgh in 1843. In 1874 the order possessed houses of protection for servant girls, schools, asylums, and hospitals in all the New England, middle, and western states, including California and Washington territory, and in nearly all the southern states. - The sisters of mercy have in view, besides other charities, the visitation of the sick and prisoners, the instruction of poor girls, and the protection of virtuous women in distress. "Wherever their means permit they found "houses of mercy," where destitute girls of good character are cared for until employment can be found for them. They are subject to the bishops, and have no general superior, the communities of each diocese in the United States forming one body governed by a common superior, who is elected by the professed choir sisters, and confirmed by the bishop. The sisterhood is divided into two classes, choir sisters and lay sisters. The former are employed about the ordinary objects of the order, and the latter about the domestic avocations of the convent and such other duties as may be assigned to them.
Candidates for membership of either class undergo a preliminary " postulancy " for six months; at the end of that time they assume the white veil and become novices. The novitiate lasts two years. The vows, which are taken for life, bind the members to poverty, chastity, obedience, and the service of the poor, sick, and ignorant. The habit of the order is a black robe with long loose sleeves, a white coif, and a white or black veil. In the streets a bonnet of black crape is worn instead of the coif and veil.