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Sacramento Convention Center and Capitol Complex Walking Tour
Item 16 of 20

This monument and historical marker were installed in 1986 on the grounds of the California State Capitol Park to commemorate the Sisters of Mercy, an order of Catholic nuns who arrived in Sacramento in 1857 during the California Gold Rush. As missionaries, they served those who were sick, homeless, or children of miners. The Sisters established a Catholic school in the heart of the city and a health care ministry that later evolved to become the Mater Misericordiae Hospital (Mother of Mercy Hospital), their first hospital in Sacramento. An additional wing was added in 1951, and the facility is now known as the Mercy General Hospital.

Sisters of Mercy Monument

Plant, Tree, Sculpture, Temple

Sisters of Mercy Historical Marker

Plant, Tree, Road surface, Grass

Sisters of Mercy Historical Marker (detail)

Head, Gesture, Art, Rectangle

Sisters of Mercy Monument (detail)

Plant, Hat, Sculpture, Tree

In the mid-19th century, the Sisters of Mercy arrived in Sacramento, where they began their mission of tending to the sick and providing schooling for the children of miners during the California Gold Rush. Initially, the Sisters of Mercy purchased land in the middle of the city to establish a Catholic school. In 1860, a “Capitol Bill” was passed which resulted in the sale of the land to the State of California, selling for its original price of $4,850. The land on which the school has been located was converted into the California State Capitol Park.

A monument and historical marker installed at the site in 1986 commemorate the arrival of the Sisters of Mercy in Sacramento, stating that the nuns “contributed to the history and progress of the State of California.” The order was founded by Catherine McAuley in 1827 in Dublin, Ireland. She opened a House of Mercy on lower Baggot Street as a place to shelter and educate women and girls. Due to the success of her efforts, she was advised by the Archbishop of Dublin to establish a religious congregation.

As a result, McAuley and two of her companions became the first Sisters of Mercy in 1831, and they went on to establish fourteen independent Mercy Foundations throughout Ireland and England. In 1846, the Sisters of Mercy arrived in the United States for the first time at the invitation of the Bishop of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. They also settled in New York City, Chicago, and Little Rock, Arkansas, as well as San Francisco and Sacramento, establishing hospitals and schools in each location. Although the order has faced criticism, many of the facilities that they established continue to provide social services.

"Our History: Mercy Heritage Center", Sisters of Mercy. Accessed September 20th, 2023.

"Tracing Our Origins Before Our 1954 Founding", Mercy Foundation. Accessed September 20th, 2023.

Whittle, Syd. "Sisters of Mercy Historical Marker", Historical Marker Database. December 29th, 2008. Accessed September 20th, 2023.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

Historical Marker Database

Historical Marker Database

Historical Marker Database

Historical Marker Database