Pope Francis declaring Mary Aikenhead 'Venerable' is fantastic news for Ireland

You might like to pop over to The Catholic Herald, where I wrote a post on Mary Aikenenhead. A fellow  Cork woman who was born just off St Patrick's Street in the heart of the city (there is, of course, no lovelier city than Cork).

Films such as Philomena and The Magdalene Sisters were not based on the likes of Mary Aikenhead.  

Raised as a Protestant, Mary Aikenhead converted to Catholicism after hearing a sermon at Mass about the poor man Lazarus and the rich man. Lazarus went to Heaven, the rich man went to Hell.  It is possible that Mary Aikenhead feared that she would meet the same end as the rich man, and this prompted her to begin a life of dynamic service to the poor. 

200 years ago in 1815 Venerable Mary Aikenhead founded the Sisters of Charity, and sisters in this congregation were the first to visit the prisoners in Kilmainham jail.  Perhaps Aikenhead's most notable achievement was founding St Vincent's Hospital in 1834. 

Úna O'Neill sums up Aikenhead well when she says, 'born to privilege, she left it behind to walk with the Lazaruses of the world'. 


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