Angelus Bell

Location: Between Year 12 and the Convent

Totem Text: The Angelus is a devotion commemorating the incarnation, that the Son of God was made flesh through Mary giving birth to the baby Jesus. This bell, symbolic of the special place that Mary has in our faith, is rung to mark the times when the Angelus is prayed and to mark special or important occasions within the Convent.

About the Angelus Bell

In 1913, the Angelus Bell, which belongs to the Iona Convent, was presented to Mother Angela Treacey by the students (boarders) on her feast day. Mother Angela’s Christian name was Mary Brigid, but like many Sisters had adopted a Saint’s name upon entering. Originally, Saint Angela Merici was given the Feast day of May 31. The students raised the money to purchase the bell with raffles. The bell was brought over from Melbourne and originally hung on the western side of the third floor of the old convent.

The name Angelus is derived from the Latin Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariæ (... the Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary ...). The Angelus devotion is thought to have originated with the 11th-century monastic custom of reciting three Hail Marys during the evening bell. By the sixteenth century the form of the prayer was standardised and its use as a devotional prayer has been widespread since this time.

The Angelus is a short practice of devotion in honour of the Incarnation repeated three times each day, morning, noon, and evening, at the sound of a bell. It consists essentially of the triple repetition of the Hail Mary, to which in later times have been added three introductory versicles and a concluding versicle and prayer.  The Angelus is usually accompanied by the ringing of the Angelus bell, which is a call to prayer and to spread good-will to everyone on Earth. The angel referred to in the prayer is Gabriel, a messenger of God who revealed to Mary that she would conceive a child to be born the Son of God. (Luke 1:26-38).

It was originally the custom at Iona to toll the Angelus bell three times a day (at 6.00am, 12 noon and 6.00pm). In later years this changed to 6.00pm only.  Past pupil, Jan Morrey, describes the Angelus Bell at Iona as one of the ‘punctuation marks in the daily routine of the Mosman Park folk’. During classes or recreation time at Iona, Jan recalls that students and staff would stop at the sound of the Angelus Bell, no matter the occasion, and say the Angelus together.

The practice of ringing the angelus bell was a part of the Iona day for over 90 years. Sister Brendan Curtin was the last Presentation Sister charged with ringing the Angelus bell. The practice ceased in 2005.

When one of the Presentations Sisters died, she was laid in the Convent Chapel and the boarders paid their respects to the tolling of the Angelus Bell. The angelus is still tolled when a Sister dies and the hearse leaves the Convent with Iona students providing a guard of honour down The Avenue.

In 2011, the bell was restored by Iona Presentation College in honour of the centenary of the presentation of the bell.  It is now in a small belfrey in the garden between the Convent and (now) Year 12 Building.


Iona Presentation College Archives

Presentation Sisters’ Archives

Angelus Bell