The Maternal Heart of Mary Chapel was founded by the Little Company of Mary sisters. It was the convent chapel for use by the sisters living and working on the Lewisham Hospital site until 1988. Lewisham Hospital was founded by the sisters of the Little Company of Mary. The grounds now belong to the St Vincent de Paul Society.
The laying of the foundation stone of Maternal Heart Chapel marked, to the very day, the Silver Anniversary of the arrival in Australia of Mother Xavier Lynch, who was to become Provincial Superior of the Little Company of Mary. For many years the Blue Nuns provided Sydney with an unparalleled service at Lewisham Hospital. The opening of the chapel was marked by a Solemn Pontifical Mass celebrated by Archbishop Michael Kelly on 18 September 1927, the Golden Anniversary year of the foundation of the Little Company of Mary by the saintly Mother Mary Potter at Nottingham, England. Three archbishops and seven bishops were in attendance. After a day of festivities Solemn Pontifical Benediction was given by Archbishop Redwood of Wellington.
In 1884 Patrick Francis Moran met Mary Potter while in Rome on his way from Ireland to Australia to take up his appointment as the third Archbishop of Sydney. After a year of assessing for himself the needs of the poor and suffering in his new diocese Moran was summoned to Rome. When he arrived home in Sydney on 4 November 1885 as Australia's first Cardinal he was accompanied by six of Mary Potter's sisters. They soon become renowned for the tender and loving care given to the sick and to the dying in their homes, and for the special reverence with which they laid out the bodies of the dead.
From their arrival the sisters lived in rented or borrowed accommodation, until on 4 October 1887, the Feast of St Francis of Assisi, they were able to move into their own convent built on land at Lewisham given to them the previous year by the Cardinal. By Christmas 1887 there were 25 sisters and postulants living in the convent. On 19 August 1888 the foundation stone of the new Children's Hospital of the Holy Child was laid by Bishop Murray of Maitland and on 9 June 1889 the first wing of the hospital was opened by the ever helpful Cardinal Moran. The opening of the first chapel took place on 25 March 1893.
On 7 August 1898 His Eminence blessed yet another foundation stone, this time for the General Hospital. On that one day £800 was collected toward the projected £6,000 cost of the hospital. Such was the esteem in which the citizens of Sydney, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and agnostic held the Blue Nuns that fund-raising was rarely a problem for them in those pioneering days. When Maternal Heart Chapel was opened in 1927 £19,826/4/- of the £23,831/17/- cost had already been raised. In May 1911, three months before his death, Cardinal Moran blessed the last of the seven foundation stones laid at Lewisham during his lifetime, for a new hospital wing.
Dr Edward McMahon described in his 1972 Lewisham Lecture a most significant event which occurred in 1899:
At the celebrations which followed the chapel opening Dr Maurice O'Reilly, Rector of St John's College, paid tribute to the magnificent activities of the Mother Provincial who was a woman of big ideas, inasmuch as one with less pluck would have been content with a building less imposing than a chapel costing over £23,000. He pointed out how well the money had been used, and further that the large gathering indicated the affection in which the Sisters were held. The proceedings were broadcast (but not on 2SM which did not then exist).
The chapel was solemnly consecrated on 5 December 1935.