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Bible Encyclopedias

1911 Encyclopedia Britannica


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MERCY (adapted from Fr. merci, Lat. merces, reward), compassion, pardon, pity or forgiveness. The Latin word was used in the early Christian ages for the reward that is given in heaven to those who have shown kindness without hope of return. The French word, except in such phrases as Dieu merci, sans merci, is principally used in the sense of "thanks," and is seen in the old English expression "gramercy," i.e. grant merci, great, many thanks, which Johnson took for "grant me mercy." In the medieval Church there were seven "corporal" and seven "spiritual works of mercy" ( opera misericordiae); these were (a) the giving of food to the hungry and drink to the thirsty, the clothing of the naked, the visitation of the sick and of prisoners, the receiving of strangers, and the burial of the dead; (b) the conversion of sinners, teaching of the ignorant, giving of counsel to the doubtful, forgiveness of injuries, patience under wrong, prayer for the living and for the dead. The order of the Sisters of Mercy is a religious sisterhood of the Roman Church. It is found chiefly in England and Ireland, but there are branches in the United States of America, in South America and in Australia and New Zealand. It was founded in 1827 in Dublin by Miss Catherine McAuley (1787-1841). The object was to perform the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

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Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Mercy'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. 1910.

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