I posted about McCauley, on another thread about why nurses are called "sister", I think this lady is really an interesting person. She founded "careful nursing", predating or about the same time as Florence Nightengale. The entire article is a great snapshot of early "professionals".
This paragraph is from an article about Catherine McAuley, who started nursing publicly in 1798, written about in
"Careful nursing: a model for contemporary nursing practice" by Therese Connell Meehan BSN MA PhD RGN, (JAN 2002,44(1)), :
sheds a lot of light on it. The entire article is really interesting.
"These emerging nurses considered themselves a secular
group in the common 19th century meaning of the term.
That is, although they were faithful Catholics and Protestants,
they were concerned with the world and its affairs.
However, the plain, dark costume they adopted and their
merciful work gave them a religious appearance. This
impression together with existing social and political conditions
led to a directive that they either form a religious
order or give up their Institute. At first McAuley was firmly
opposed to the idea of a religious order but as their work
grew and its importance became more evident, she agreed to
it (Moore 1841/1995, Harnett 1864). In 1831 they became
the Religious Sisters of Mercy, and over time became major
providers of nursing services in Ireland and around the