A Short History

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The Institute of Our Lady of Mercy was established in Dublin on December 12, 1831 by Catherine Elizabeth McAuley. To many she appeared as a rather grim, censorious person, gifted with a tartness of language. Fastidious, with a high sense of duty, she was scornful of what she regarded as slipshod, pretentious and ill-considered.

Despite her antipathy to the idea of starting a congregation, Miss McAuley finally agreed to the Holy See's request and selected the Presentation Convent at Georges Hill, Dublin, as the place where she and two companions would receive their canonical training in preparation for the founding of such a group. THE SISTERS OF MERCY.

Sadly, only five months after Pope Gregory XVI's final confirmation of the movement in June 1841, the imposing Catherine Elizabeth McAuley died. It was left to her followers to tour the five continents and establish throughout them the foundations which, in little more than a century, would make THE SISTERS OF MERCY the largest English-speaking congregation in the world.

In 1980, following the demise of Mother Carmelita Hartman, the movement's centre was moved from Dublin to Leeds, England, when Andrew Eldritch was confirmed by Pope John Paul II as Patron Father. An austere hedonist, Eldritch lived for the disciplined gratification of the senses, with an eye for social esteem and seeking anchorage in system and scholarly detail. He was a dominating figure, both in his assurance and his incandescence of spirit. This doubtless affected the Holy Father's choice.

In the first year Eldritch took as his companions Gary Marx and Craig Adams. Two years later he travelled to the most wretched of cities, Liverpool, where from amongst the swarms of lecherous minstrels crowding it's polluted streets Eldritch chose a certain Wayne Hussey to become his third companion. There were some who counselled against the granting of such high favour to one from so lowly an estate, and to these Eldritch answered with a pallid smile "He who cometh from wretchedness shall lead unto wretchedness".

Even prior to Eldritch's patronage of THE SISTERS OF MERCY, the wake of the congregation's achievement had begun to disturb McAuley's purity of vision. In 1984, therefore, Eldritch commenced his reflections upon Mosaic withdrawal and, in particular, the idolatrous episode of the Golden Calf which had served to establish within the hearts of the Children of Israel and (sic) enduring distinction between Faith and Mammonism. Entitled "Body And Soul", "Walk Away" and "No Time To Cry", these meditations culminated in the encyclical "First And Last And Always" (March 1985) which was to signal Eldritch's own prophetic retreat.

Bereft of conscience's illumination, Eldritch's lieutenants fell, like their biblical counterparts, victim to idolatry and became, in the word's of Bishop Paul Marcinkus, "Distorted little creatures with black teeth, who held their forks by the middle and were set on making a career"... The dissolution of THE SISTERS OF MERCY was proclaimed and, with missionary zeal, the former companions sought to replace the rule of light with the sparkle of baubles.

For thirty months the People submitted themselves to tinsel's thrall, whilst far away in the depths of some strange metropolis Eldritch, taking as his sole companions the American, Patricia Morrison and the ever-faithful Machine, Doktor Avalanche, sought to re-establish and redefine the seven spiritual works of Mercy. Listed first by Thomas Aquinas, these are:

  1. to instruct the ignorant (in the pursuit of goodness, truth and beauty)
  2. to counsel the doubtful (arrogantly and with aggression)
  3. to admonish sinners (just once)
  4. to bear wrongs patiently (but not at length)
  5. to forgive offences (by repayment in kind)
  6. to comfort the afflicted (by laughing)
  7. to pray for the living and the dead

Now, as the reign of glitter reaches its crepuscular zenith, Andrew Eldritch returns and, with Patricia Morrison and Doktor Avalanche, inaugurates the new apostolate of THE SISTERS OF MERCY. This work is defined as Power in the face of Misery.....

Merciful Release/WEA, September 1987

See also: Band History