Tradition tells us that Nano Nagle carried a lantern as she moved through the darkness in the streets and lanes of Cork in search of children desiring an education and the local poor in desperate need of food, comfort, medical attention and shelter.
The Lantern became a symbol of Nano’s love for the poor: a symbol of God's love, touching and transforming the harshness of their lives and offering hope. Today that lantern has become the symbol of the mission of the Presentation Sisters around the world.
This reflection on the final day of this meeting from a US delegate, Joy Peterson, illustrates the animating power of the lantern:
"We proclaim that there is an unquenchable fire shining within each person… that it cannot be contained.
As we celebrated the Presentation Day liturgy, approved the Assembly goals, and prayed the closing ritual these lines summarized for me what I was feeling and sensing in the gathering.
The closing day sends us forth to celebrate our heritage and live our commitments to confront injustice through our IPA mission.
The beautiful fire lamps we each carried from the Assembly wonderfully reflected the passion and enthusiasm we garnered from these days."
A contemporary rendition of the lantern for the 2009 Australian Presentation Students' Conference held at Star of the Sea
This poem by Presentation Sister, Raphael Consedine, illustrates how the lantern links our past, present and future:
To Nano Nagle
Take down your lantern from its niche and go out!
You may not dwell 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 loudly in the winding lanes
And you must seek Christ there.
Your pilgrim heart
Shall urge you still one pace beyond,
And love shall be your lantern-flame.