Each Brother is an open letter from Christ-a message written, not with ink but in the Spirit of the living God, with a faithful human heart to carry it!
Brothers are lay religious, who profess vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. They commit themselves to a life of ministry and prayer within the community.
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The left panel begins with the Presentation of Mary. Through Nano Nagle, this mystery influenced Edmund Rice greatly. Mary, the finest flower of the Old Testament, moves toward her destiny within the oval-shaped aureole (symbol of virginity and holiness), the Cross of her Son barely visible at its center. A text which touched Edmund deeply is the open Scriptures.
Edmund is in prayer before the living God. The star of David and the triangle of the descending Deity point to him in adoration before the Eucharist, represented in muted but powerful imagery.
The man of deep spirituality is also the man of down-to-earth practicality. Edmund finds Christ in his mission as easily as in the Eucharist. His vision of the future for his poor boys shines in his eyes and radiates from his posture. The classroom scene is positioned directly besides Edmund's befriending hand in the center panel.
The scenes of the bake house and the gallows are drawn from Edmund's compassionate response to human need and human tragedy. Truly, he opened his whole heart to Christ present and appealing to him in the poor.
Edmund is seen transfigured, united with the Trinity, his mission fulfilled, the world he served blessed with his favorite prayer, "Live Jesus in our hearts, forever."
Across the bottom images recall men of holiness and wisdom.
A.M.D.G. (Ad maiorem Dei gloriam), begins the right panel. It is the motto of the Jesuits, who influenced Edmund in many ways, and of his presentation Brothers.
Edmund had a close affinity with St. Teresa of Avila, both in his spirituality and in his practical bent. She is shown with one of her writings, "The Interior Castle." At her shoulders are her symbols for God and His actions - mountains, rain and river.
Nano Nagle and Edmund were almost spiritual twins. Nano was the foundress of the Presentation Sisters. The lantern she carries is the symbol of her great charity - she and Edmund were mother and father to the poor. Below Nano is the symbol of the Heart of Christ, its spirals signifying the spiritual energy of the risen Christ and encompassing the Cross.
The scene of the family Rosary, a traditional and rich Irish devotion, shows Margaret Rice, Edmund's mother, leading her children in prayer. The ever-present divinity spiral move through the family circle.
Community life was a significant value for Edmund. An old Irish proverb comes to mind: "It is in the shelter of one another that people live."
Scholarship is suggested by a window from a monastery in the Aran Islands, a nursery of learning.
Edmund Rice dominates the central icon panel. The spiral is symbolic of God, the Creator. The flames represent the Holy Spirit. Rings of fire surround the haloes of Mary and the baby Jesus.
To our right, his left, is the homestead at Westcourt, Callan, in theCounty of Kilkenny, where Edmund was born. Edmund’s left hand caresses the head of a child, his daughter With his right hand, Edmund extends hope to a distressed young boy who is representative of the marginalized children of Waterford. Also near his right hand are several locations critical to his mission: the stable school in New Street, Waterford, the Presentation Convent at Hennessy Road, and Mount Sion, the mother house.
The Lamb of God is shown in the lower part of the icon.
This icon was done by the Irish artist, Desmond M. Kyne, who also provided the detailed narratives.