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Tanzanian Icon of the Cenacle commissioned by the late Fr. Noel O'Connor SAC

“Wherever I shall be, I intend to imagine myself to be together with all the creatures in the Cenacle in Jerusalem where the Apostles received the Holy Spirit. I shall remind myself to renew this desire often. As the Apostles were there with Mary, so will I be in spirit with the most beloved Mother and Jesus. As they are my special intercessors, I am confident that they will help me and all other creatures to receive the abundance of the Holy Spirit” (St. Vincent Pallotti) 

I take this prayer of St. Vincent Pallotti and place myself before the image of the Cenacle – Mary in prayer in the Upper Room, surrounded by the apostles and disciples of Jesus after His Ascension into heaven. There’s an empty space in front of Mary and I think of myself going in there to kneel at her feet, my hands resting on her lap in prayer. It reminds me of Mary Ann McDonagh who was, as I thought then, an old woman, though probably not yet fifty. When I was a boy in Aran where she lived, I loved her, the home maker. The warmth of her and the deep tone of her voice that sounded like freshly baked brown bread. Mornings when I played alone on the beach near the pier, Mary Ann would call to me from the door of the pub to come up and have tea with her in the kitchen. And when I got there, in the presence of the old black range with its huge and ever-boiling black kettle, we prayed. She seated on a chair and I kneeling at her feet with my hands resting on her lap. It was very tender. The prayer I remember us saying was the prayer to the Guardian Angel. Then there was the tea and Kimberley biscuits - a whole packet for myself. Prayer and Kimberley biscuits! My encounter with Mary in the Upper Room is not much different to that, no grander, no more complicated. We pray and she lavishes me with the abundance of Divine Tenderness that is in her, feeds me with the abundance of Divine Love that is in her heart, the oil of her kindness. And, without asking anything in particular, I am quietly changed for the better.  

(The Pallottines feadtday of Our Lady Queen of Apostles is celebrated on the Saturday after the Ascension)


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