Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
- Stained Glass Window

Location: Viewed from the eastern end of the Convent, Bay View Terrace


Totem Text: The Presentation Sisters take their name from the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to the temple, where Mary was consecrated in preparation for her role as Mother of God. The Sisters at Iona adopted a maternal role in educating young people through the tradition of the Catholic Church and were inspired by Mary and their founder, Venerable Nano Nagle.


The title 'Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary' (PBVM) comes from an ancient feast recalling Mary being presented in the Temple. This feast was popular in Ireland and Europe at the time of Nano, alongside a relatively new devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Both feasts were seeking to enter more deeply into a relationship with the Divine through the humanity of Jesus and Mary. This title of Mary being 'Presented' in the temple was important to Nano Nagle. She began her congregation of the Sisters of the Charitable Instruction of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on Christmas Eve, 1775. This congregation had temporary permission under Canon Law, but a Rule of Life and constitutions were required. With Nano's death in 1784, this task was not complete. Bishop Francis Moylan, a strong supporter of Nano and her movement continued the legal work with Rome and in 1791, as part of this new approval, the congregation changed its name to the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (PBVM). Therefore, recognising this special devotion of Nano to Mary.

There is a marked resemblance between St Columba's life on the island of Iona and what we celebrate in the Feast of the Presentation of Mary in the Temple: that grace-filled rhythm of intense contemplative prayer and the abundantly fruitful apostolic activity of Mary – 'the first of the Apostles' in the sense that she was the first person to bring Christ to the world. Tradition has it that Mary spent 12 years living in the Temple in Jerusalem (from 3 years of age until around 15 years old) – praying, attending to the Temple duties, learning and pondering the Scriptures, and growing in wisdom and sanctity before she then left the Temple to begin her unique missionary role in history.

Mary's hidden life in the Temple, having been presented as a gift to God by her parents, Anna and Joachim, at the tender age of 3,  is essential to understanding the fruitfulness of her life of love and service after she had spent many years dwelling in God's presence in the Temple. Mary could only give to the world what she had received from God. She had first to be drawn fully into God's life and love before she could give this to others so completely.

This same dynamic of uniting both contemplative prayer and missionary/apostolic activity is found in the life of Nano Nagle – the foundress of the Presentation Sisters. Nano spent most of her nights in prayer – in her simple home/Convent in Cork – before she went out again all day into the streets of Cork to educate, and bring comfort, hope and encouragement to the poor. Like Mary spending years hidden away in the Temple and St Columba in the Iona Abbey, Nano needed to withdraw to 'her inner room' each night so as to be filled and continuously replenished with God through her countless hours of prayer and contemplation. Only then was she able to bring God's healing and sanctifying presence to others and help transform the world around her.

Acknowledgements

Nagle Education Alliance Australia. (2016). Induction Module 2: Presentation Spirituality. Retrieved September 2020 from www.neaa.com.au

Sister Terri Emslie PBVM