Friday, July 3, 2009

Mercyhurst's Spooky Sister

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Mercyhurst Old Main and Chapel - image from Family Images

Founded in 1926, Mercyhurst College in Erie has become the second largest Mercy-operated Catholic college in America. And like virtually every Catholic college worth its salt, it sports a spooked-out sister.

Old Main Tower: Mercyhurst's first building was the Gothic Old Main, built by the Sisters of Mercy and completed in 1925. And this dorm is Spook Central for the school.

The tale is that during the WW2, when the Old Main was still used as a convent, one sister joined the order after she was told her fiance had been killed in combat. But he was just MIA, and he returned with a ring for her after the war. Having taken her vows, she couldn't marry him, and went mad. She was confined to the Old Main Tower to protect herself (and the other nuns too, we'd assume).

The sister eventually killed herself. The distraught nun is said to roam the halls of the building and has been seen on the Old Main Tower, where the students believe she keeps a benevolent eye on them. (The Sisters of Mercy owned Old Main outright until 1993, renting it to the College until then) and in Egan Hall.

Christ the King Chapel: The sister of Old Main fame has been seen in the chapel, as has a blue orb by a statue of young Jesus (the chapel is joined to Old Main, a dorm now, but a convent back in the day). It's said that the good sister slipped the ring she got from her boyfriend on the icon's finger. It stayed on His hand until the 50's, when a girl took it in an effort, it's alleged, to get her boyfriend to commit. We'll never know if it would have worked; she died on the way to the tryst.

Another bit of lore is that if you touched the ring, you'd meet a tragic end within five years. At any rate, Mercyhurst decided it would be good policy to not have its students killed off by a cursed wedding band, and the ring disappeared after that night. Some say it reappears on its own every so often to raise a little havoc, while others say it was buried and forgotten. Some believe the sister is still looking for her ring.

Egan Hall: This is the only haunting not related to the tragic nun. Egan's lore is that there are certain rooms that you can't keep a mirror in; it'll will shatter. It's also said that faces can be seen reflected back just before the mirror explodes. There are also unexplained lights that occasionally shine from Egan's attic, which has been boarded off from the Hall proper and has no access point.

A reader wrote and said that there were "Old Hag" experiences in the dorm, where sleeping people would feel as if they were being held down in bed, and that visions of nuns, monks, and even a small girl were seen by her classmates.

Egan Hall is connected to Old Main and the Chapel, too, and it's been claimed that people have seen the face of the suicidal sister in windows. She sometimes roams the halls, and enjoys playing poltergeist tricks on the students, like turning things off and on.

Weber Hall: Many students who walk over the small green island in the middle of East Main Drive in front of Weber Hall swear that they immediately suffer bad luck. Is it local lore - or where the ghostly sister's ring was buried?

There are supposed to be other apparitions in habits on campus, too. We've heard stories of the shades of old nuns gathered outside the Chapel, and other spirit sisters have been spotted in the Grotto.

The sister's sad tale was written up by Stephanie Wincek in Ghosts of Erie County.

2 comments:

LC said...

The haunted Old Main story seems to be popular at Catholic colleges. Chestnut Hill College's St. Joseph's Hall has a similar story as does Immaculata.

Anonymous said...

I was a student at Mercyhurst in the mid-1990s. My first two years I lived on the third floor of Egan Hall. I began having odd dreams in my first year, often involving nuns and a little girl. (I assumed the nuns were because I had overheard some of the "Old Main Nun" stories.) I didn't hear much else about haunting my freshman year.

The next year, however, I moved into a different room and was never comfortable. More than once I had the sense of being held down in my own bed ... a feeling that a friend who lived on the second floor also reported.

I had friends who had trouble sleeping and would see people --- they thought nuns --- walking in the halls at all hours. Other friends reported showers turning on and off early in the morning ... when they would wait for someone to exit the showers so that they could use them, there would be no one.

One friend was writing in the room adjacent to mine early one evening when he looked into the window. In the reflection, he saw himself and a man in a monk's robe behind him. The priest's reflection moved across the room and through the wall.

I was particularly disturbed, however, by another event. We had all be out partying and came back to another friend's room at the end of the night. He fell asleep while we were sitting there, so we all returned to our rooms --- the girls first, since their curfew had arrived. The next morning, our friend asked one of our female friends what she was doing in his room in the middle of the night. He remembered a small girl (who he assumed to be one of our friends) sitting on his legs and then, once he began to wake up, running over and sitting in his desk chair. Our girlfriend, of course, was surprised, as she was sleeping in her own bed at that point.

My friend told us this story at the dinner table, with a number of former residents of the building there. One guy, the captain of the crew team, reported a similar event in the room immediately adjacent the year before. He awoke with a start as a little girl was jumping on his legs. When he woke up, she giggled and jumped through the wall.

I am definitely a believer in the haunting of Egan Hall!