Our History

Mary Patricia Waldron

Mother Mary Patricia Waldron

In the summer of 1913, when Mother M. Hildegarde, a Sister of Mercy, was transacting some business with Archbishop Prendergast, he said to her, “There is a hospital needed in West Philadelphia and I would like you to have it. Is it not according to your Rule?”

She replied, “Oh, yes, I have often heard Reverend Mother (Patricia Waldron) express her wish that we had a hospital but she never saw her way.”

Reverend Mother began immediately the formidable task of building a hospital. Real Estate Agent John H. McClatchy was retained to secure suitable land. After deliberation and with the approval of His Grace, negotiations were begun for acquiring the lot at 54th Street and Cedar Avenue in West Philadelphia, at a cost of $108,000.

mortgage documents

Original mortgage documents for the hospital (click image to view larger).

A down payment of $10,000 was required, which Mother M. Patricia paid after borrowing $8,000 from the Most Reverend Archbishop. To pay her debt to him and to Mr. McClatchy, Reverend Mother mortgaged the convent property at Broad Street and Columbia Avenue to the Beneficial Savings Fund Society.

She employed the firm of Edwin F. Durang and Son as architects. They drew up the blueprints “for a six story structure, flanked by four diagonal wings, the whole forming a Saint Andrew Cross.”

At the same time Reverend Mother recognized the need of providing a qualified staff to maintain, what she hoped would be called Mercy Hospital. Two sisters were sent to Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pa., and two others to Mercy Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, to become trained nurses. Other sisters were registered at the College of Pharmacy and the Polyclinic Hospital in Philadelphia, for courses in pathology. Each became proficient in her own field and the future success of the new hospital seemed certain.

dedication ceremony

Misericordia Hospital dedicated on June 9, 1918

Thousands of people turned out to celebrate as Misericordia Hospital was officially dedicated on June 9, 1918.

The hospital’s official opening was celebrated on July 2 with a Mass in the hospital chapel celebrated by Bishop McCort. Two days later, the first patient was admitted to the hospital.

Click image to view larger.

Unfortunately, Sister Patricia Waldron died on July 30, 1916 and so did not live to see her dream realized. Today her legacy and that of the first Sisters of Mercy lives on in the dedicated staff, nurses, physicians, and others who serve at Mercy Philadelphia.

The hospital’s commitment to West Philadelphia is as strong as ever and is an “expression of our core values which are rooted in our history, define our present, and direct our future.”