Theological Background Details


A definition: Nano Nagle

Nano Nagle (1718-1784) founded the Presentation Sisters (Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin PBVM) in Ireland. Nano Nagle lived during a time in Ireland when the English imposed the Penal Laws through which it was declared a crime of treason, punishable by death, to educate the Irish and allow them to practise the Roman Catholic faith.  Honora (Nano) Nagle was born in Ballygriffen in 1718, the eldest of the six children of garret and Ann Matthew Nagle. In her family circle she was given the affectionate diminutive ‘Nano’ to replace her official baptismal name, ‘Honora’. Nano was educated in a so-called hedge school close to her home before being sent to France for the rest of her education. In Paris she led a hectic social life but after one party noticed a group of wretched looking people huddled in a church doorway. After her father’s death in 1746 Nano returned to Ireland and went to live with her mother in Dublin, where surrounded by widespread poverty she resolved to take up the education of deprived children. In defiance of the law Nano and her associates began to set up schools for the poor and deprived and to visit the sick and the elderly in the evenings earning herself the title The Lady with the Lantern. Nano founded the first Presentation convent at Cork in 1775 and with her companions received the habit of a Presentation Sister on 29 June 1776, taking the religious name Mother Mary of St John of God. Nano and her companions made their first vows as Presentation Sisters on 24 June 1777. In the year 2000 Nano Nagle was voted Irish Woman of the Millennium in recognition of her importance as a pioneer of female education in Ireland. It was Nano Nagle who inspired Edmund Rice, the founder of the Irish Christian Brothers to bring education to the poor.