A congregation of Catholic nursing sisters who once risked their lives to help the sick of all religions in Belfast is about to celebrate the 140th anniversary of its arrival in the city.
Nuns from Bon Secours came in July 1872 and their first home was a small house in Alfred Street in the city centre, a short distance from St Malachy's Church. They nursed the sick and dying in their homes and provided residential care and a hospital chaplaincy service.
The only surviving member in Belfast, Sister Consilia Dennehy, said: "This is a wonderful occasion to thank God for our ministry in Belfast."
The original group of four sisters came to Belfast to tend the sick in every class and creed in their homes. In doing so they risked their lives through serious illness and several sisters died in the early years.
The Bon Secours sisters continued to care for sick people in their homes until the early 1950s when the arrival of the NHS meant nursing at home went out of fashion.
The nuns set up a nursing home on the Falls Road with 19 residents which remained in operation until 1975 when it was damaged in a bomb explosion.
On Saturday July 7, a Mass of thanksgiving will be celebrated in St Malachy's by Donal McKeown, auxiliary bishop of Down and Connor.
Sister Dennehy, a native of Cork, added: "We hope the word gets out and people of all denominations who have been touched by Bon Secours in the city will join us."
The international Congregation of Bon Secours was founded in 1824 in Paris. It spread to the US, UK, Ireland and Africa.
Sister Marie Ryan, Bon Secours leader in Ireland, said: "Together with a number of sisters from throughout Ireland, I am looking forward to coming to Belfast for this joyous occasion. It is a time to give thanks and also to pray for the vocations that would keep the charism (power of healing) of Bon Secours alive serving people throughout Ireland and beyond."