Nano Nagle

1775  |  Foundress of the Sisters of the Presentation in Cork, Ireland

Born to a wealthy family in Ireland in 1718, Nano Nagle’s parents sent her to France to be educated since strict Penal laws barred Catholic children from attending school in Ireland. She returned to Ireland after her father’s death in 1746; her mother died soon after. Prayer and reflection led Nano back to France to become a sister. Even as she began her new life as a sister, Nano’s thoughts often returned to the children of the poor families back in Ireland.

At age 32, she left the convent in France and returned to Ireland, where she secretly gathered the children of the poor and taught them catechism, reading, writing and mathematics. As Nano spent her days with the children, they would tell her of their sick friends or family members. Nano began to visit the sick and the elderly after school, bringing them food, medicine and comfort. She often made visits late into the night, carrying her lamp among the alleyways. Before long, Nano became known as the “Lady of the Lantern.“

Nano soon decided to open a convent where women could share the mission of Jesus through prayer, teaching and care for the sick and needy. Nano and three companions opened the first Presentation Convent in Cork, Ireland, on Christmas Day in 1775. In 1784, at age 65, Nano died.

Nano left her compelling vision of service to a growing community of Presentation Sisters worldwide. We are energized by the life of Nano. Her lantern has been a source of light for many. Her style of being present was that of a “welcoming heart’ and a practical intelligence that enabled her to be compassionate as well as strategic in addressing the unjust structures that kept them poor. This is the gift and the challenge she has left us as Presentation people.

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“Let’s have a crowd of guests for Christmas dinner,” she said gaily to the Sisters one evening in early December.

It was scarcely necessary to listen in order to know that the party Nano was planning would be very different.

“If we used the new classrooms with all the tables and benches, we would have room for fifty,” Nano went on. “I’d like to invite fifty of the very poorest people we can find. We won’t be able to afford anything elaborate, but we could give them a good dinner. What do you think?”

There was no insincerity in the agreement of the three. Perhaps there were more pleasant things to do, thought Mary Ann Collins as she was caught up in the bustle of that Christmas morning. More pleasant, but surely none more satisfying. Without pausing in her work, she looked across at Nano, who, wholly intent on the task of keeping all her guests served, was oblivious of the thoughts she might be inspiring in anyone else.

Later as they washed dishes together, Mary could not refrain from saying: “We ought to do this again next year; every year.” “Every year for a hundred years,” agreed Elizabeth Fouhy.

“It’s been a wonderful day,” Mary Fouhy said when they at last finished their task. “It isn’t over yet. Come home!” Nano looked around as she spoke. “Next Christmas this will be home. At least, I certainly hope so.”

When they stepped out into the street, a sharp wind whipped their skirts about them and stung their faces. But Mary Ann Collins walked through the slush of the land with heart singing. For she has seen God beneath rags of flesh that day.

In the true spirit of Nano, let us invite and encourage each other to prepare and share a meal with the poor of your neighborhood.

Taken from One Pace Beyond, Raphael Consedine, PBVM

Nano Nagle Declared Venerable

On October 31, 2013, Nano Nagle was declared Venerable by Pope Francis. This announcement brings the Canonisation of Nano Nagle one step closer as it is the second of four stages in the Canonization Process. Nano Nagle’s Cause for Canonization was officially initiated at the bi-centenary of her death in 1984. In 2004, the Central Leadership Team set up a Nano Nagle Commission Office, to help in promoting Nano as a woman of faith and courage, in the hope that she may soon be declared Venerable. The Commission comprises three Presentation Sisters, one from each Irish Province. The Commission has worked to make Nano better known and to promote the Cause of her Canonization. To forward the Cause of Nano, it is imperative that people cultivate devotion to her, and pray to her for favors.

Nano’s Miracles: Story of Wallace

This story is one of our most important in the line of miracles for the Canonization of Nano. For those of you who are not aware of the details of Anne’s story, the following account will be of interest to you.

On the morning of 9th December 1990, Anne Wallace, a physiotherapy student in St. Vincent’s Hospital, Merrion, Dublin, was cycling to class there, when she was involved in a collision with a car. A doctor, driving to St. Vincents, came on the scene and stopped to administer medical attention. Anne was very badly injured. An ambulance came and took her to the Accident and Emergency of the same hospital. Immediate attention was given. Anne was unconscious. She had multiple very serious injuries, external and internal. She was admitted to the hospital and brought to surgery immediately. In the meantime her parents, living in Dooradoyle, Limerick, were informed of the accident, and travelled to Dublin in the most dreadful weather conditions. They prayed all the way to Nano, to bring them safely to the hospital. The prognosis was not good. Many friends of Nano were alerted to pray continually for a miracle.

The medical teams continued to work around the clock administering care and attention. Anne’s parents kept vigil. Eventually the doctors told the family there was nothing more they could do. Anne’s father had grown up with a great love of Nano and consequently a deep – deep devotion to her. Anne was in and out of consciousness, had further surgery and hung by a thread to life. Her father always carried the relic of Nano in his pocket, and decided to place it in Anne’s hand while he kept vigil beside her bed. He entered deep prayer, and sometime in that prayer felt a tip on his shoulder. No one, only Anne was there. She was semiconscious. She suddenly spoke and said: “I am allergic to penicillin”. That was the changing force. The medics were informed and they changed her treatment. Anne began to improve. That “penicillin idea” came from nowhere, only from Nano, as there had been no talk about it at all. Anne made a full recovery.

Today Anne is married and has two children. This in itself is a miracle as she had so many internal injuries. This miracle in its full details is with the Postulator and also in Rome. Please continue to pray to Nano for any favors, and let us know if you receive any favors, no matter how small. Please send to:

The Nano Nagle Commission Office
Presentation Convent
Portarlington, Co. Laois