Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Mary Juliana Hardman

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Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Volume 7
Mary Juliana Hardman

by Francesca Maria Steele


Known in religion as Sister Mary; b. 26 April, 1813; d. 24 March, 1884; was the daughter of John Hardman, senior, of Birmingham, a rich manufacturer, by his second wife, Lydia Waring. The Hardmans were a stanch old Catholic family, who had suffered for the Faith in penal times; they were also most generous to the Church. Mary Juliana was one of a large family; she was educated in the Benedictine convent at Caverswall, in Staffordshire, and, when she was nineteen, her father founded the convent of Our Lady of Mercy at Handsworth, near Birmingham, spending upwards of 5000 pounds (25,000 dollars) upon it. In 1840 Miss Hardman and three friends offered themselves to Bishop Walsh, to form the nucleus of a new community, and by his advice they went to Dublin to make their novitiate under Mother M. C. McAuley, the holy foundress and first superioress of the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy, Baggot Street, Dublin. The novices made their profession on 19 August, 1841, and a day or two later Mother McAuley accompanied them to the new convent at Handsworth, where they were solemnly received by Bishop, afterwards Cardinal, Wiseman. Shortly afterwards Sister Mary Juliana was appointed first prioress of the community, and held that office off and on for thirty-five years, her first appointment lasting for six. She was then elected for three years, and twice re-elected for the same period, and from 1870 she held the office of superioress till her death. In 1849 she opened another convent at St. Chad's, Birmingham, and also one at Wolverhampton. The next year she built an almonry for the relief of the poor, and opened poor-schools. In 1851 she placed the orphanage founded by her father at Maryvale under the care of Sisters of her community, making her own sister, Mary Hardman, in religion Sister Mary of the Holy Ghost, superioress. In 1858 she built a middle-class boarding-school; twelve years later she erected elementary schools for the working classes at Handsworth; and in 1874 she opened a middle-class day-school for both of boys and girls. She died at Handsworth, at the age of seventy. She is said to have been the personification of the rule of her institute, in her exercise of piety, self-sacrifice, and humility; she was also most wise and prudent, gentle and loving, in her government: she was unassuming and retiring; "deeds not words" was the motto up to which she lived. Her brother, John Hardman, founded the well-known ecclesiastical metal works and stained glass works at Birmingham, and was, like his father, a most generous benefactor of the Church, besides taking an active interest in the Catholic revival of his time.

AMHERST, St. Mary's Convent of Mercy, Handsworth (Birmingham 1891); GlLLOW, Bibl. Dict. Eng. Cath., s.v.

Francesca M. Steele.