On today, the Feast day of St. Vincent De Paul (renowned for his compassion, humility and generosity), we pray for all of those who dedicate their lives to working and living alongside those made poor. See http://www.svp.ie/feastday
For a someone to feel that they ‘have been seen’ and are ‘made visible’ through the love and care they receive, makes love and care something worth giving and sharing.
The early environment of the young Nano Nagle was one of safety, comfort and privilege. Ireland in the 18th century was marked by the restrictive and oppressive Penal Laws which impacted on the lives of many. However, Nano grew up within a family circle that nurtured an awareness of being cared for, and in the words of Pope Francis, ‘infinitely loved’. As a young woman she had a series of ‘radical awakenings’ that caused her to move out of her small and privileged world, into a world impacted by injustice and discrimination.
‘For Nano, God turned up in the guise of the poor waiting outside the church in Paris; in the missing roll of silk, brought from France to extend her fashionable wardrobe but sold by her sister Ann for the poor; and in the grief that ensued following upon the deaths of both her father and mother, and in particular, Ann. Ann was the conduit of God’s radical call to her’.
As a result, Nano deliberately moved to the peripheries of the Cork of her day, aligning herself with the poor of the city who trudged its winding lanes, living in conditions of rampant hunger, disease and lack of education. She spent herself for the poor, and as a result became a prophetic, pioneering, courageous and daring voice for people who had long been held in the throes of despair and hopelessness.
Nano became an agent of change and transformation for the people of her day, her life an enduring and evolving legacy for our day.
See: Nano we give thanks
(The quote above is an extract from: ‘The Nano Journey’ – a piece that appears in ‘Praying Our Journey’ a prayer resource prepared by the Nano Nagle Commission (Union of Presentation Sisters).