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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
Marshall Cohen—researcher and producer, CNN

Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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SISTERS OF MERCY. In 1831 the Religious Sisters of Mercy (RSM) were founded in Dublin, Ireland. Their work was to carry out works of compassion for the ill, orphaned, and poor. Mother Frances Warde and seven Sisters came to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1843 and in 1847 opened the first Mercy Hospital. (1)

Sisters of the order came to Dubuque in 1879 from the Mercy Hospital in Davenport at the invitation of Bishop John HENNESSY to open a hospital. The Sisters immediately opened a temporary hospital at the foot of West Third Street. A permanent hospital was opened by 1880 on the present site of Mercy Health Center. The efforts of the order in Dubuque have been seen in the founding of ST. JOSEPH'S SANITARIUM and ST. ANTHONY'S HOME FOR THE AGED.

On December 14, 1914, Fannie STOUT died without leaving a signed will. Her property was purchased by Joseph J. NAGLE who sold it to the Sisters of Mercy. In 1921 the Sisters replaced the Stout home with a brick building that became their novitiate, Mount St. Agnes. In 1951 the site was purchased by the ARCHDIOCESE OF DUBUQUE and the Province of Iowa for the establishment of MOUNT ST. BERNARD SEMINARY.



1. "Women of Courage and Conviction," Celebrating 125 Years, Mercy Medical Center, 2004, p. 4