Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up; and he went to the synagogue, as was his custom, on the Sabbath day. He stood up to read; and there was given to him the book of the prophet Isaiah. He opened the book and found the place where it was written:
“The Spirit of God is upon me,
Because God has anointed me
To preach good news to the poor.
God has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
And recovering of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed,
To proclaim the acceptable year of God.”
This is the vision of God that seduced and captivated the heart of Nano. This is the Mystery of God.
The South Presentation Annalist describes Nano Nagle “thus did she devote her person and her wealth to the gratuitous instruction of the poor and destitute little ones of the Lord.” As well as her work in the schools, Nano visited homeless and sick women in their homes, their garrets, their mud cabins bringing them her compassionate presence and whatever help she could and putting her life at risk as she trod the unlit alleyways of Cork at night by the light of a dim lantern. Nano’s early companions and the first Presentation sisters continued to exhibit the characteristics that made Nano’s way of engaging in the mission of God distinctively Presentation.
They continued their passion for those made poor. The focus of the lives of the early companions of Nano was recorded in the South Presentation Annals some thirteen years later: Miss Nagle wished them to become the servants of the poor; and to be free to seek them out in their hovels of misery and want. For her there was not a garret in Cork which she did not visit and know – this was the road to be trodden by her congregation.
The mystery of God and her companions led her to promise to do all in her power. “Doing all in her power” included spending up to four hours each morning before the Blessed Sacrament and as many in her cabin each evening. A letter from Eleanor Fitzsimmons to Teresa Mulally (Walsh p 389) tells us that she spent each Holy Thursday night in a vigil. And we know that on her deathbed it was found that her knees were badly ulcerated from kneeling constantly in prayer.