Presentation Reflection Walk | Angelus Bell (Station 7)

Angelus Bell

Station 7 –

Angelus Bell

Location: Between the Original School Building and the Convent

Audio: Read by Sister Consuela Worthington PBVM, Presentation Sister and Past Principal of Iona Presentation College.

The Angelus Bell, belonging to the Sisters at Iona Presentation Convent, was brought from Melbourne and presented to the Foundress of Iona, Mother Angela Treacey, by the student boarders on the occasion of her feast day in 1913.  Mother Angela was baptized Mary Brigid, but like all Sisters at the time was given a Saint's name upon entering the Convent. Mary Brigid was named Sister Angela after Saint Angela Merici, an Italian 15th century saint who founded the Ursuline Sisters, the oldest Catholic Religious Order dedicated to the education of girls.

The Angelus is a devotional prayer commemorating the mystery of the Incarnation when the Angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she was to be the Mother of God.  It consists of  reciting certain versicles: three Hail Marys and a special prayer while the bell is being rung at 6.00 am, 12 noon, and 6.00 pm.  The ringing of the Angelus bell is a call to prayer and is thought to have originated in the eleventh century when Pope Gregory 1X asked that the evening bell be rung to remind the faithful to pray for the Crusades.  By the fourteenth century the bell was rung at noon on Fridays calling the faithful to prayer in memory of the Passion of Our Lord.  It also came to be associated with praying for peace.   By the sixteenth century the form of the prayer was standardized and it became common practice in Monasteries for Monks and Nuns to pray the Angelus three times daily, when the bell called them to prayer at 6.00 am, noon, and 6.00 pm.  It was part of the tradition of the Monasteries and Convents to balance work with prayer and see their work as being sanctified by prayer.  It spread further than the Monasteries and became a quite common devotion for the laity.  This is depicted in the French artist Jean-Francois Millet's famous 1859 oil painting of "the Angelus" showing two peasants in the fields with heads bowed praying the Angelus, that, together with the ringing of the bell from the church on the horizon, marks the end of the day's work.

It was originally the custom at Iona to toll the Angelus bell at the customary times, 6.00 am, noon, and 6.00 pm. This was a call to the Sisters to prayer.  Past pupil, Jan Morrey, described 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 was part of the Iona day for over 90 years. It was, always said in the classrooms when the bell rang at 12 noon. Sister Brendan Curtin was the last Presentation Sister charged with the ringing of the bell at the appointed times. The practice ceased in 2005.

Another tradition associated with the bell was, that when one of the Presentation Sisters died, the students paid their respects by forming a guard of honour as the hearse moved down the avenue and the bell tolled the Sister's passing. The tolling of the bell is a sombre reminder of our own mortality.

In 2011, the bell was restored by Iona Presentation College in honour of the approaching Centenary of the presentation of the bell. It is now in a small belfry in the garden between the Convent and the College.  The Angelus is prayed in the College in the month of May and on various feast days throughout the year.

The Angelus.

V. The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary;
R. And she conceived of the Holy Spirit. Hail Mary.
v. Behold the handmaid of the Lord;
R. Be it done unto me according to Your word. Hail Mary.
v. And the Word was made flesh;
R. And dwelt among us. Hail Mary.
v. Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God;
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let Us Pray:

Pour forth, we beseech You O Lord, Your grace into our hearts that we to whom the Incarnation of Christ Your Son was made known by the message of an angel, may by His passion and cross, be brought to the glory of His resurrection, through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.

v. May the Divine assistance remain always with us. R. Amen

v. And may the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. R. Amen.

Angelus Bell


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