Venerable Nano Nagle

Nano Nagle

Venerable Nano Nagle, who founded the Presentation Sisters, is described as ‘the kind of person to win a Nobel Prize’ if she was alive today. During her lifetime, she ‘opened 7 schools for poor children across Cork City, founded an almshouse for poor women and most notably, founded the Presentation Order, who continue her education and social inclusion work today.’ 


Nano’s spiritual work was recognised by Pope Francis in 2013, when he declared her to be ‘Venerable’ Nano Nagle, which means ‘heroic in virtue’. This is because Nano had lived her life through the three virtues of faith, hope and charity to ‘heroic degree’, as well as demonstrating the virtues of justice, prudence, temperance and fortitude. Being declared Venerable is the second step towards sainthood.


From Humble beginnings in Cork

“The birth of a baby girl, Honora Nagle, better known as Nano Nagle, in County Cork in 1718 changed the course of Irish history and subsequently the history of many parts of the world. The wilful young girl from Ballygriffin was educated as a child in a local hedge school, and later in Paris and Ypres (French territory, now Belgium). 


“Nano was a wilful and spirited young girl. Her parents sometimes despaired of her free-spirited nature. Yet over time, she gave up a life of comfort and privilege to minister to those on the margins of society.” – from


The Lady with the Lantern

After she began her ministry, Nano became known as ‘The Lady with the Lantern’ because she walked the dark back streets of Cork at night, her path lit only by her small, hand-held lantern. There, she ministered to the poor and the sick, bringing help and respite to those who needed it most.


Anne Lyons PBVM is working on the cause for the beatification of Nano Nagle within the Catholic Church. You can learn lots more more about Nano’s life, times and work at the Nano Nagle Birthplace website.

Nano Nagle statue at Ballygriffin

"How often have we seen her, after a well-spent day, returning through the darkness of the night, dripping with rain, mingled in the busy crowd, move thoughtfully along by the faint glimmering of a wretched lantern."

- Dr Coppinger
Biographer of Nano Nagle

Living as Presentation today

At this time in the Presentation story, more than ever, ‘we are being called to deepen our sense of mission, the spirit of Presentation charism rooted in Gospel.  We need to remember, reconnect at the deepest level with who we are, with what lies at the heart of it all, with what is of the essence, what gives meaning: the why”.


In the twenty-first century we have a new, global mission at the United Nations. Nano Nagle herself had a global vision at a time when people were only beginning to discover the extent of the world’s boundaries. She wrote on 17 July 1769: “If I could be of any service … in any part of the globe, I would willingly do all in my power.”

Detail of the Nano Nagle icon by Desmond Kyne

Exploring the Nano Nagle icon

“Icons use symbols to engage the mind and to help the imagination get through those barriers that exist between us and the invisible world of the spirit which surrounds us. The Icon of Nano Nagle was ‘written’ by Irish artist Desmond Kyne in the 1970s. Icons are described as being written rather than painted, because making them is considered more a form of praying than art. The Icon portrays Nano Nagle immersed both in the mystery of God and amongst the people of 18th century Ireland.”


Download the booklet Exploring the Nano Nagle Icon here.

Nano Nagle: A Life Lived on the Razor's Edge

“Abandoning a life of privilege, position and wealth, Nano Nagle chose to live and work in her beloved city of Cork, working in solidarity with those made destitute.

“Driven by a burning passion to help Christ’s marginalised, she dared not only to dream a better life for them but to make this seemingly impossible dream a lived reality. This was the great miracle of her life. At a time when the role of women in shaping society was severely restricted, she lived on the razor’s edge, a woman fearless before a tyrannical world.”

Cover of Nano Nagle biography
Click the cover to buy this fascinating and engaging biography of Venerable Nano Nagle, written by Anne Lyons, PBVM.

"The Almighty makes use of the weakest means to bring about His work."

- Nano Nagle,
29 September 1776

Exploring Nano Nagle's spirituality in depth

We celebrated the Venerable Nano Nagle’s Tercentenary, that is, the three hundredth anniversary of her birth, in 2018. To mark the occasion, we produced this special collection of resources, below, exploring her qualities and her spirituality. 


Musician and priest Chris Skinner recorded a special hymn to celebrate her life, called Nano’s Song and you can listen to it here.


We celebrate Nano Nagle day every year on 21 November. You can read and download the Presentation Day Novena for 2022, below.

File Type Published Download
Feast of the Sacred Heart Reflection 16 June 2023 PDF 06/02/2023 Download
Nana's Echo March 2023 | Newsletter of the Friends of Nano PDF 03/01/2023 Download
Compassion: Presentation Sisters offer the Gift of Hospice in Newfoundland PDF 01/20/2023 Download
Exploring the Nano Nagle Icon | Booklet PDF 12/01/2022 Download
Presentation Day Novena 2022 PDF 11/04/2022 Download
Exploring the Nano Nagle Icon PDF 05/06/2022 Download
Nano Nagle and the IPA – A Reflection on the IPA Story PDF 03/06/2022 Download
Integrity | Nano Nagle centenary PDF 01/28/2022 Download
Compassion | Nano Nagle tercenenary PDF 01/28/2022 Download
Hope | Nano Nagle tercentenary PDF 01/10/2018 Download
Zeal | Nano Nagle tercentenary PDF 01/01/2018 Download
Visionary | Nano Nagle tercentenary PDF 01/01/2018 Download
Trust | Nano Nagle tercentenary PDF 01/01/2018 Download
Prophetic | Nano Nagle tercentenary PDF 01/01/2018 Download
Love | Nano Nagle tercentenary PDF 01/01/2018 Download
Hospitality | Nano Nagle tercentenary PDF 01/01/2018 Download
Endurance | Nano Nagle tercentenary PDF 01/01/2018 Download
Daring | Nano Nagle tercentenary PDF 01/01/2018 Download
Courage | Nano Nagle tercentenary PDF 01/01/2018 Download
Letters of Nano Nagle | 1769–1788 PDF 12/13/1778 Download

“She abandoned the salons and ballrooms of Paris to work tirelessly in the poorest parts of Cork city. Armed only with her faith and her vision of education for all, she persevered."

- Ann Lyons PBVM
From 'The Story of Nano Nagle: A Life Lived on the Razor's Edge'

Vintage oil lantern

A Presentation Poem

“Take down your lantern from its niche and go out!

You may not rest in firelight certainties,

Secure from drifting fog of doubt and fear,

You may not build yourself confining walls,

And say thus far and thus and thus far shall I walk,

And these things shall I do and nothing more,

Go out for need calls out loudly in the winding lanes

And you must seek Christ

And love shall be your lantern flame.”


by Raphael Consedine

The youth of today celebrate Nano Nagle

We thought we would leave the last word to the young people of today, who speak with honesty, freshness and a true understanding of what it means to be rooted in Presentation spirituality, and to live as Presentation today.


This video was produced by the students and teachers of the Presentation Convent School Jammu, in April 2021.

Theological and Spiritual Reflections

Browse our collection of beautiful theological reflections, prayer services and other resources. Join us in prayer, celebration and communion as we explore the Presentation charism.

File Type Published Download
Feast of the Sacred Heart Reflection 16 June 2023 PDF 06/02/2023 Download
Advent Reflection | SDG Goals | PBVM Union PDF 12/01/2022 Download
Presentation Day Novena 2022 PDF 11/04/2022 Download
2022 Prayer Reflection for the Feast of the Sacred Heart PDF 06/01/2022 Download
Presentation Congregation | Response to the Challenge of Sustainable Living PDF 01/28/2022 Download
Nano Nagle Prayer PDF 01/28/2022 Download
Prayer for the International Day of Peace | 21 September PDF 01/28/2022 Download
Prayer Service for St Josephine Bakhita Patron Saint of Sudan and Trafficked People PDF 01/28/2022 Download
International Mother Earth Day | 22 April PDF 01/28/2022 Download
2021 Presentation Day | Novena Booklet PDF 11/21/2021 Download
Theological Reflections on God's Earth PDF 10/28/2021 Download
2020 Presentation Day | Novena Booklet PDF 11/21/2020 Download
2020 Global Circle of Light at this time of the Coronavirus PDF 01/01/2020 Download
2019 Presentation Day | Novena Booklet PDF 11/21/2019 Download
2018 Presentation Day | Novena Booklet PDF 11/21/2018 Download
2018 Earth Day Prayer PDF 04/22/2018 Download
2018 Feast of the Heart Speaking PDF 01/01/2018 Download
2017 Presentation Day | Novena Booklet PDF 11/21/2017 Download
2017 Prayer on the Feast of the Sacred Heart PDF 01/01/2017 Download
2017 Prayer for the Eradication of Poverty PDF 01/01/2017 Download
2017 Earth Day | A New Earth PDF 01/01/2017 Download
2016 Garden of Dreams | Human Trafficking PDF 01/01/2016 Download
2012 Prayer Reflection for the Feast of the Sacred Heart PDF 01/28/2012 Download
Reflections Presentation Charism and Spirituality 2009 PDF 01/01/2009 Download