Mother Mary Frances Aikenhead (b. Eason's Hill, Cork, Ireland, 19 January 1787 – d. Dublin, 22 July 1858) was the founder of the Roman Catholic religious order the Religious Sisters of Charity and of St. Vincent's Hospital in Dublin.

The daughter of David Aikenhead, a physician, member of the Protestant Church of Ireland, and Mary Stacpole, a Roman Catholic. She was brought up in the Church of Ireland, but became a Roman Catholic on 6 June 1802, some time after the death of her father, who had himself been received into the Roman Catholic Church on his death-bed. [1]

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. She was chosen by Archbishop Murray, Bishop Coadjutor of Dublin, to carry out his plan of founding 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.

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 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.

Mary Aikenhead was the foundress of St. Margaret's Hospice, as it has been known since 1950, has changed its name to St. Margaret of Scotland Hospice[2].

She died, aged 71, having left her Order in a flourishing condition, in charge of ten institutions, besides innumerable missions and branches of charitable work.

See also

This article incorporates text from the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1913, a publication now in the public domain.


  1. [1] Entry at Princess Grace Irish Library.
  2. "St. Margaret of Scotland Hospice". 

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