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Nano Nagle

The Conversion Story

The life of Nano Nagle and its fruits attest to the positive impact a single life can make. As a young woman from a wealthy Irish family, Nano enjoyed a life of privilege.  Several experiences pushed her beyond herself and into a life of service to education, the poor and the sick.

Early one morning, while in Paris, she and several others were returning from a ball. The horses of the carriage in which she was riding were spooked by a cluster of poor workers standing in the cold awaiting the opening of the church doors for Mass.  For a moment, Nano was confronted by the shallow comfort of her existence. She felt ashamed.

Her father died.  Nano and her sister, Ann, returned to Ireland.  Once home, Nano’s sister, Ann continued her practice of reaching out to the sick and less fortunate.  At times, Nano forced herself to accompany Ann. Still, she found such actions very difficult.

While in Paris, Ann had purchased a bolt of beautiful green silk to be fashioned into a gown. Knowing Ann hadn’t used the material, Nano inquired if she could have it made into an evening gown. Ann responded, “I thought you knew, I sold it to buy medicine, blankets and food for the O’Donaghues.” Again, Nano was confronted by the shallowness of her existence and again, she felt ashamed.

Ann became ill and unexpectedly died. Nano could not bear to let Ann’s good works die, too. Piece together the rest of the story. Nano’s conversion to a life of service didn’t happen all at once and it wasn’t easy.

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