"She was self-ordained a sister of mercy"

The Sisters of Mercy (1859)
Public DomainThe Sisters of Mercy (1859) - Credit: Henriette Browne
Another link with Catholicism. Founded in 1827 by Catherine Elizabeth McAuley, the Sisters of Mercy began as a congregation of Catholic women in Dublin, Ireland whose vows bound them not just to their faith but also to philanthropic outreach work. They devoted themselves to nursing the sick, instructing the ill-educated and providing succor to the poor, with an especial focus on women and children. Though the organization was not established until well after Hester’s time, by Hawthorne’s it had spread to the United States and Australia. Today, the Sisters of Mercy have around 10,000 members globally.