Known today as one of Maine’s most renowned hospitals, Mercy Hospital started as a result of the 1918 Spanish Influenza. During a time of fear and illness, a lack of adequate hospital facilities lead Bishop Walsh to found The Queen’s Hospital with the help of the Sisters of Mercy, whom the hospital was later named after.
Established in 1831, the Sisters of Mercy became known for their vows of tending to the sick, poor, and ignorant. Lovingly called “walking nuns” in Ireland, the sisterhood’s country of origin, the Sister of Mercy had their first mission of health with the 1832 cholera epidemic. A little understood disease at the time, cholera ran rampant through Dublin, killing up to 600 people per day. The Sisters worked to help stem the impact of the illness any way they could, from holding the hand of a dying patient to continuing lessons for children pushed out of school.
Over the next decade, the Sisters of Mercy open chapters in other countries than Ireland, including roughly 100 different foundations in the U.S. In 1873 Bishop David Bacon invited the Sisters to Portland to help care for the orphans of the city; had he not, the Sister of Mercy may not have been able to help open the greatly needed hospital during the 1918 pandemic.