The Cause of Mary AikenheadPrint
Mary Aikenhead was given the title, Servant of God in 1921. This is the title given by the Pope when he gives permission for the opening of the “cause” of a person’s Sainthood.
Mary Aikenhead was declared Venerable by Pope Francis on 18 March, 2015.
Being declared Venerable is the second of four steps in the Church’s canonisation process. A person is declared Venerable when it is established that the person had practised the theological and cardinal virtues to an heroic degree.
Beatification is the third step towards canonisation. It is a decree permitting the public honouring, at the level of the local church, of a Servant of God whose virtue to a heroic degree or martyrdom have been recognised. It is also a recognition that the person can intercede on behalf of individuals who pray in their name.
Canonisation is the definitive decree of admission of a Servant of God among the canon of saints and a declaration that the person should be publicly honoured as a Saint by the Universal Church.
When Mary Aikenhead set up her Congregation in Ireland more than two hundred years ago, there were only a hundred women religious in Ireland, all enclosed contemplatives. Mary applied to Rome for permission for her Sisters to take a fourth vow – Service of the Poor – enabling them to visit poor people in their own homes; those who were sick and hungry and cold and penniless and with no one to whom to turn.
With the support of Archbishop Daniel Murray of Dublin, Mary received her training in Religious Life at the Bar Convent, York where, under the guidance of the Loreto Sisters, she was formed in the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius.
Mary and her sisters became the first women religious to visit prisoners in Kilmainham Gaol. In 1830, she opened her first Catholic school for poor children in Gardiner Street, Dublin.
Against all odds she founded St Vincent’s Hospital in 1834, the first hospital in Ireland to be run by women to care for patients of all creeds and where doctors and nurses could receive training.
In 1838, Mary Aikenhead sent five Sisters to Australia, the first women religious to set foot in this country.
Mary Aikenhead’s vision, commitment, and inspiration lives on in her Sisters who now live and work in eight countries throughout the world – Australia, England, Ireland, Scotland, Malawi, Nigeria, Zambia and the United States of America.
Like her they put their trust in Jesus and continue to bring the compassion and love of Jesus to the many who are in need of a word of hope and encouragement, a helping hand, a listening ear.
Our vision is to make the mission of God more widely known through the life, spirituality and charism of Mary Aikenhead and to keep alive her inspirational spirit throughout the world.
If you would like more information about The Cause of Mary Aikenhead, please contact the Congregational Office.