WE pray for the Presentation Sisters all over the world. We think of our own Presentation Sisters here in Bandon who gave many years to the education of pupils in Bandon and surrounding areas and who also still give today to the community in many ways.
The Icon of the Presentation Sisters and what each image symbolises.
OUR LADY OF THE PRESENTATION
November 21st The Feast of the Presentation.
Mary rises up as the Mystical Rose– the symbol of salvation is coming.
+ A small cross over her head- the symbol of the redemption of mankind.
The 7 branched candlestick represents the cosmic tree. On either side of it is grouped symbols of the 12 tribes of Israel and below it the Star of David
It has been pointed out that Nano’s life has been intertwined with rivers: the Blackwater, the Seine, the Liffey and the Lee-her hands are depicted just above the River Blackwater. It was here in the Blackwater valley in Ballygriffin that Nano grew up. The Blackwater Valley is gloomy in the icon-depicting the influence of the Penal Laws –known at first hand to Nano especially in her early years.
At Nano’s feet is a group of children.
Either side of Nano’s feet are the streets of Cork City -Southgate Bridge on the left and Northgate Bridge on the right. These areas were the centre of Nano’s apostolate towards children. Many children in those days in Cork were exploited and sinned against. The figure of the anxious pregnant girl on the right signifies this.
There can be no love without suffering; for once the heart is opened for love it is open also to hostility, hurt and injury as well.
The Lamb of God (the innocent paschal lamb) at the centre of the children signifies that innocence and love are the patterns of suffering. Nano realised this and she was filled with a sense of urgency in her mission, an urgency always tempered by the tranquillity of care and thoroughness.
FROM THIS KINDLING THE FIRE STILL SPREADS UPON THE EARTH….
“I have come to cast fire on earth, and how I wish it were already kindled.” (LK.12:49)
When Jesus described his mission on earth, He drew on a symbolism already ancient in every culture – an image of Light and of Fire. The task of carrying the fire from place to place, assumed a sacred character in keeping with the precious meaning fire held for its possessors: comfort and companionship, light in the darkness.
Nano Nagle was a woman who understood the words of Jesus. She opened herself to receive the divine fire, to carry it in her heart and to kindle it upon the earth. She knew herself called to make some move against injustice, however slight the impact of her action might be. She knew herself impelled to share her own faith-vision of reality with those deprived of every means to experience their God as the centre of love, hope and meaning in their lives. She knew herself responsible to help them take hold of their unpromising present, and use it to create a future for themselves and for others.
This mission drew her ever deeper into the heart of Christ, deeper into the divine fire.
The fire that burned within the heart of Nano Nagle enabled her to radiate the love and compassion she learned in her communion with God.
“Lanes her hem touched were cured of hopelessness” (Jerome Kiely)
The Presentation Sisters was founded in Cove Lane now renamed Douglas Street in Cork city on Christmas Eve 1775.
The four founding sisters stand by the well of living water- the surface of the water disturbed by the Spirit of God- a symbol which recalls the moving of the waters of the pool by God in both the Old and New testaments.
The Holy Spirit descends, bearing the heart of Christ along with the symbol of the sun represents the pouring out of God’s grace which has spread across the whole world through what had been accomplished that Christmas Eve.
Rays from the sun illuminate the sisters, suggesting the ongoing influence of Nano amongst her spiritual family, and her relevance for today and the days that are to come.
A seed is grown and multiplies signified by the oak leaves which engirdle the earth. – the presentation sisters spreads its shelter to all 5 continents of the world.
The Cross has pierced the heart of Christ. Below this in a similar form of symbolism to the Sacred Heart is the tabernacle-recalling Nano Nagle’s extraordinary devotion to the Blessed Eucharist. The image is used to illustrate the power of God radiating from the tabernacle, and from the Mass itself- this was and is naturally the centre of the spirituality of the Presentation Sisters.
It was Nano’s custom, no matter how busy the day, to spend several hours in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament- the image of Nano below the tabernacle knelt in prayer.