Heart on the outside

The other week I put together a PowerPoint presentation of the history of our time in 11NG, using old photos from our archives. When I saw this photo, of the statue which used to stand in our entrance hall and greet visitors and residents alike, I remembered an anecdote from My father took me to the circus, the memoirs and reflections of Prue Wilson RSCJ. You can read about Prue and her book in a post I wrote just after her death four years ago here.

Prue lived in this house while she studied at Oxford in the 1940s and 50s, and much later lived here again for several years in active, characterful retirement. During the 1940s an elderly Breton sister called Marie Scoazec also lived here, and Prue would sometimes hear her answering the door to visitors and explaining the statue's significance to them. Her final words, indicating the central focus of the statue, would be: You see that the heart is on the OUTside and that is what I am for him. The heart on the outside so that everyone knows that he loves them.

And that is how we all should be: a love which is visible and unhidden, an open, transparent heart through which the love of God may pass unhindered. As Prue writes: If I am to be that centre of awareness through which the love that is God may be experienced, then I must have faith in the Son of God who loved me and delivered himself for me, and will use me, paradoxically, to extend his limitless loving. This was the faith of Sister Scoazec, lived fully.

This statue no longer stands in our hall: in its place stand fresh flowers, and a lamp which remains lit all night to welcome visitors and residents with a comforting glow. But I'd like to think Sister Scoazec's spirit and legacy live on, and whenever visitors comment on the friendly and welcoming atmosphere in the house what they are experiencing is something of God's limitless loving, passing freely through our hearts worn on the outside.


  1. Dear Silvana,

    Lovely post. The first time I heard of 11NG was from a former international student that lived there and loved it. I just got accepted at University of Oxford for a 3 month PhD internship, so one of the first things I did was checking the 11NG website and I found your blog. Don't know if 11NG is still accepting students for accommodation, but if they do, please let me know. Thank you and keep posting.

    Best wishes,

  2. Hello Joana
    I'm afraid we're in the process of selling the house to St Benet's Hall, so we cannot accept any new students. But I hope we will have the chance to meet while you're in Oxford - maybe at the chaplaincy or somewhere else (it's a small city, so easy enough to bump into people!) And I also hope you find somewhere nice to live.

    (Btw, who was your friend who lived here?)

  3. Hello Silvana,
    So sad to hear that but hope to meet you as well! Thank you anyway.
    Kind regards,


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