It was only when Good Samaritan Sister, Fran Nolan, died that others discovered a treasure trove of her private mandala work, writes Debra Vermeer.
- The Good Oil
Good Samaritan Sister, Fran Nolan had always dabbled in art, but it was when she was introduced to the drawing and painting of mandalas – circular creations, which draw one into the mystery of the divine centre – that her artistic talents found their ultimate, prayerful expression.
It was only when Fran died that others discovered a treasure trove of her private mandala work, and now her Good Samaritan sisters are gathering her works together to share them with all.
Fran, who was much loved, had been engaged in ministries including teaching, formation, spiritual direction, retreat work and working with people with disability. She died of cancer in May last year, at the age of only 58.
Sister Agnes Farrugia SGS, who had been living with Fran for the last five years or so of her life, says she knew Fran’s mandalas were beautiful, and she often saw her drawing them, but had no idea of the extent of her work.
'It was only when I was involved with the other sisters in the community in dealing with Fran’s personal effects after her death that we found the remarkable extent of her mandalas,' she says. 'There were more than 200 of them.'
Looking at the mandalas, it became obvious that some of them were prayers related to members of her extended family. 'We found some which were dated and had a person’s name on them,' Agnes says.
'We showed them to members of her family and they were amazed and it brought tears to their eyes, because it turned out that the dates related to birthdays and wedding anniversaries. It was obvious that she had been praying for them on these special days when she drew them. They’d had no idea. It was really beautiful. So we gave them to the family members who were named in them.'
But seeing the beauty of Fran’s mandala collection, Agnes and other Good Samaritan Sisters, including Jill O’Brien and Margaret Mithen, began to conceive of an idea to share Fran’s works with others.
FULL STORY Fran's artistic and spiritual legacy