Foundress of the Irish Sisters of Charity, born in Cork, 19 January, 1787; died in Dublin, 22 July, 1858; daughter of David Aikenhead, a physician, member of the Established Church, and Mary Stacpole, a Catholic. She was brought up in the Church of England , but became a Catholic 6 June, 1802, some time after the death of her father who had been received into the Church on his death-bed. Accustomed as she was to an active life of charity, and feeling called to the religious life, she looked in vain for an order devoted to outside charitable work. Against her will she was chosen by Archbishop Murray , Coadjutor of Dublin, to carry out his plan of rounding a congregation of the Sisters of Charity in Ireland, and in preparation for it made a novitiate of three years (1812-15) in the Convent of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin at Micklegate Bar, York, the rule of which corresponded most nearly to the ideas of the Archbishop. She there assumed the name she kept till death, Sister Mary Augustine, though always known to the world as Mrs. Aikenhead. On 1 September, 1815, the first members of the new Order took their vows, Sister Mary Augustine being appointed Superior-General. The following sixteen years were filled with the arduous work of organizing the community and extending its sphere of labor to every phase of charity, chiefly hospital and rescue work. In 1831 overexertion and disease shattered Mrs. Aikenhead's health, leaving her an invalid. Her activity was unceasing, however, and she directed her sisters in their heroic work during the plague of 1832, placed them in charge of new institutions, and sent them on missions to France and Australia. After a long period of trial and suffering she passed away in her seventy-second year, having left her Order in a flourishing condition, in charge of ten institutions, besides innumerable missions and branches of charitable work.
The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed between 1907 and 1912 in fifteen hard copy volumes.
Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.
No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.
Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912
Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online