by Lisa Murphy MMM Archivist Ireland 27.01.2022
Following the death of Mother Mary Martin on the 27th of January 1975, there was an outpouring of sympathy to the Congregation from around the world. Hundreds of telegrams and letters arrived lamenting the loss of MMM’s foundress. Today, those messages of sympathy are held in the MMM archive and offer us a revealing insight into Mother Mary’s impact both at home and abroad.
There are letters from Pope Paul VI, MMM Sisters abroad, the President of Ireland, official dignitaries, members of government, businesses, organisations, benefactors and other religious congregations. However, some of the most poignant messages are those sent by members of the public who had met or been impacted by Mother Mary in some way.
The following excerpts have been taken from just a few of the many hundreds of letters that were received. [Please note that the names of correspondents are omitted for data protection purposes.]
“There will never be another Mother Mary, who was beloved by thousands of people all over the world. The example and inspiration of her most wonderful life and work will never be forgotten. Many famous people will pay tribute to her – and as a humble member of her vast family I should like to be allowed to add my loving devotion to her memory.” 27 Jan 1975
“My personal memories of Mother Mary go back to the beginnings of your foundation in Drogheda, when she first bought that house and we were galvanised into action in running money making ventures to erect the hospital etc. She was a wonderful person. She made it a pleasure to work for her. I have always felt greatly honured to have known her personally.” 27 Jan 1975
“I can remember the warm and sincere greetings from Mother Mary in meeting her over the past thirty years and more. She never failed to be interested in everyone and the hospital itself felt the sense of her presence whenever she was in the building, and also her deep concern for all those within its walls.” 27 Jan 1975
“I thank God for having had the privilege of knowing her for ever such a short time, but in that time she made an impression which has influenced my whole life.” 27 Jan 1975
“We have often looked back on her many acts and expressions of kindness and felt she brought us many blessings. Her life of sacrifice and devotion will be recorded in the annals of time – and God may even grant Ireland another Saint.” 29 Jan 1975
“I am just a student studying for my leaving cert and she has greatly influenced me in many ways, especially in the field of Nursing.” 29 Jan 1975
“I felt associated in a special way with Mother Mary, her interest in our family affairs and her kindness and help with her prayers sustained us when times were difficult. In Lourdes I asked her to pray for me at the grotto, I had no children. She astounded me by saying “you will have a son”. Well, three years later I had a son and now Mother Mary has died on his twelfth birthday.” 30 Jan 1975
“One cannot explain the mixed feelings of sadness and joy for surely another great saint has entered Heaven.” 01 Feb 1975
“She has undoubtedly gone to a great reward. I am positive she will one day be canonised – she radiated holiness.” 03 Feb 1975
“I know that I and all the past pupils of the I.M.T.H. have a lot to be grateful for to Mother Mary. Without her strong will and determination we would not have our nursing careers today.” 03 Feb 1975
“I had the pleasure of seeing her some years ago at Dublin Airport when she was seeing some of her daughters (i.e. Sisters) off to the Missions. I was very much impressed by her motherly affection for her departing missionaries and their affection for her. She was truly a great and noble person and her sanctity is common knowledge.” 04 Feb 1975
“I only met her a few times but as with many others she in her greatness made a lasting impression on me. When she spoke to me and shook hands so warmly with me I felt I was so important. I felt as if she had been looking forward to seeing me and that nobody but me mattered at that time, she who had so many far reaching matters to attend, was giving all her attention to me.” 09 Feb 1975.
“It has been obvious that she must have been chosen for her special work and been granted both the strength and inspiration to steer such a straight course direct to her goals…..when [name omitted] and I saw your hospital at Drogheda we were astonished at its immensity: much larger and taller than we had visualised. One was amazed at the vision which had planned on this grand scale: another example of the work of the Supreme Architect, guiding a soul dedicated to God and His work.” 09 Feb 1975
These excerpts speak of Mother Mary’s kindness, generosity and warmth and provide insight into her vision and determination. They also convey her ability to give her full attention to those she met, no matter how busy she was. There are also many, many calls for her canonisation. On the anniversary of her passing, these letters offer us a chance to see Mother Mary from the perspective of those that she met on her journey through life and to reflect on the legacy that she left behind.