Our Lady of Mercy Convent and Chapel
(170 Military Road, St. John's)
Our Lady of Mercy Convent was built in 1857 under the guidance of Right Rev. Bishop Dr. John Thomas Mullock, who had previously supervised the completion of the Basilica of John the Baptist. The four-storey granite convent with an attached chapel provided educational and kitchen facilities on the first floor, and living and dining areas on the second floor. The bedroom facilities were on the third and fourth floors. The most interesting feature of the complex is a large M-shaped red stone of polished granite in the exterior or the west wall. Bishop Mullock received the stone from the mother house of the Carmelite Sisters in Spain which was founded by St. Teresa of Avila. The stone was meant to link the Mercy Convent with Mullock's alma mater, the Carmelite University of Salamanca.
© 1998 Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador
The original complex has had many additions over the years. The original 1857 chapel, called the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception, was replaced by a new chapel in 1892. After the construction of the new chapel, called the Oratory of the Sacred Heart, the original structure was used as a community room. In 1913 renovations were made to the convent and an extension constructed to provide additional space for a kitchen, refectory and sleeping quarters. In 1921 the Knights of Columbus built the Memorial School to honour of the fallen in the First World War. The last major addition to the complex was the construction of a gymnasium/auditorium.
The complex built as the mother house of the Sisters of Mercy continues in that capacity to the present day. Since the arrival of the order in St. John's in 1842, the sisters have been actively involved in the health and education of Newfoundland and Labrador through the first Mercy school which opened in 1843. The sisters later assumed teaching responsibilities for the Knights of Columbus Memorial School. Extensive work in the health care sector began in 1922 with the construction of St. Clare's Mercy Hospital on LeMarchant Road. In 1939 the present St. Clare's was built, also on LeMarchant Road, as a modern four-storey hospital complete with a School of Nursing.
In the 1960s the Sisters expanded their operations to Latin America when a priest and six Mercy Sisters went to establish a mission in Monsefu, Peru. Over the past number of decades, the sisters have become more active in the social work and pastoral aspects of their mission. In 1980 Elizabeth House in St. John's was opened for unmarried women in need of shelter. The dwelling has subsequently been given to the Right to Life Association.
On April 27, 1990, the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador declared Our Lady of Mercy Convent and Chapel a Registered Heritage Structure.