Accounts from numerous Sisters bear witness to Venerable Catherine McAuley's total abandonment of herself and all that belonged to her into the hands of her Creator. Tranquility, confidence and courage characterized her life and her death. In the consciousness of the power of God and of her own weakness, she had faced many adversities in the course of her life; she was consequently able to face the last great moment of her life with great equanimity. Mother Catherine was a forgiving person; she could, therefore, face her God with trust.

One incident tells of a chance visit of Sister Ligouri Gibson to the infirmary and her appeal to the dying Foundress: "Oh, Reverend Mother, stay with us! What would the Order do if you died?" Mother Catherine's humility and confidence in God are forever encapsulated in her reply: My child, never say that again. If the Order is my work, the sooner it falls to the ground, the better. If it is God's work, it needs no one. Mother Catherine McAuley had experienced in large measure the crosses, the conflicts and the misconceptions which attend great enterprises; but the certain calm of one who knew in Whom she trusted, underlined her response to this young novice.

Mother Catherine's last personal letter was to Sister Mary Francis Warde. Deated October 12, 1841, it tells of her yearnings, the kindnesses she receives from the Sisters, and gently hints that time is running out for her, as it closes with the words, You will not forget. Despite recurring stomach pains, violent headaches and an ulcerated mouth, Mother Catherine continued to witness to the virtues she propounded in her spiritual lectures, especially to the common life, charity and religious observance. In addition to her pulmonary tuberculosis, complicatd by an internal abscess, Mother Catherine was found to have an ulcer on her lower back, brought on, it was discovered, by a hair-shirt and a heavy chain. True to her teaching on the value of hidden mortifications, she permitted no one but Sister Teresa Carton to see or treat this ulcer. It was from Sister Teresa that a few days before her death Mother Catherine requested plenty of brown paper and twine. With these she wrapped up all her instruments of penance and ordered Sister Teresa to burn the parcel unopened, so that no one would ever know what it contained. The seriousness of the Foundress' stem command, coupled with Sister Teresa's horror of encountering cockroaches on her way to the kitchen fireplace, made her reluctant to move. Seeing that, Mother Catherine commissioned Sister Vincent to execute the command. Sister Vincent, however, watched as the flames licked open the bulky parcel and later confessed to her director that she had disobeyed the dying wish of the Foundress. He not only released of any obligation to preserve the secret, but he insisted it should be made known, as he quoted, Tell the vision to no man, till the Son of man is risen from the dead. Thus it happened that those who remembered the dignity and calm with thich Catherine McAuley wore the garb of a Sister of Mercy, learned that beneath it she wore a hair-shirt and that her well-patched and ill-fitting shoes were studded with nails.

On the morning of Monday, November 8th, Mother Catherine was anointed and received Viaticum. In the midst of her sufferings, she spoke the following words to Sister Vincent: When we give ourselves entirely into the hands of God, He will sweetly ordain all things for our greater comfort, even in this life. Then in the early hours of Wednesday, November 10th, Mother Catherine entered on the last stage of her illness.

Around four o'clock on the morning of Thurday, November 11, 1841, she who had seen so many of her relatives and young Sisters die of tuberculosis and knowing that she soon would want air, requested that her bed be placed in the center of the room. After Mass Mother Catherine greeted the Sisters from Booterstown and Kingstown, each of whom she blessed. Asked by Sister Vincent to bless all the superiors and their foundations, Mother Catherine mentioned each by name, as she prayed: Oh, I remember them all. May God bless them. May the Holy Spirit pour down His choicest blessings and make them truly good Religious. May they live in union and charity, and may we all meet in a happy Eternity.

Adapted from Chapter 20, Martinmas, 1841, in the Positio, the Documentary Study for the Canonization Process of the Servant of God, Catherine McAuley, presented by Angela Bolster.