The latest installment in the Conjuring universe follows the events of 2018’s The Nun, a prequel to even the first Conjuring film. This film is definitely more impressive than its predecessor, but it still fails to leave the same mark as The Conjuring. What does stand out, though, are the characters of the film, and Sister Irene happens to be a highlight. While she is a boring nun in the first film, who happens to be clairvoyant, she’s especially popular because she’s played by Taissa Farmiga, Vera Farmiga’s younger sister. This made everyone wonder, what the connection between the two characters was and why they chose to cast her for this role. This is not to say, that Taissa doesn’t do a great job playing a horror-stricken nun who will do anything in her power to help people.
Sister Irene begins as a novitiate, who is not quite clear on what she wants. She comes into form in the first nun film, when her faith is shaken by the demon, who takes the form of a nun. Irene has clear visions of what happened in the abbey in Romania, but she doesn’t realize they are visions until much later. Interestingly, she finds answers quite easily, and that’s possibly why she’s chosen to become an Investigator for the Church both times.
Sister Irene chooses to dedicate herself to her faith in the first film and becomes a nun in the middle of the chaos that takes place in the abbey. They know, that none of the nuns are alive at this point, and Irene takes it upon herself to contain the evil in the abbey. During the events of the first film, Irene was able to perform a miracle, after being saved by Frenchie. This is because she has the Relic containing the blood of Christ. But, in the second part, Irene performs a true miracle when she uses her faith to save herself from burning to death. Her strength comes from within her and her thoughts. There’s nothing external about this process.
In the midst of The Nun 2’s storyline, Debra approaches Irene with a question about her memories of her mother. Irene candidly admits that she doesn’t recall much because her father manipulated her into believing that she was mentally unstable. However, the truth is that Irene’s mother shared many similarities with Irene herself, and she was perfectly mentally sound. In fact, Irene’s unique abilities enable her to save lives in her role as a public servant, turning what could be considered a hazard into a gift. Irene has carried a heavy burden of insecurities over the hurtful things her father said about her mother, and she has long suppressed her abilities. It’s during this time at the abbey in Romania that Irene begins to confront and accept her true nature. Throughout her journey, her faith remains steadfast, grounded in her unwavering belief in her mother and the support she receives from her presence, even if it’s not physical. In her conversations with Debra about faith, Irene seeks to convey a deeply personal and individual experience. She wants Debra to discover faith from within herself rather than adhering to the conventional notions of faith held by the other nuns.
Irene does not hesitate to accept help, and that is why she asks Debra to pray with her in the final act of The Nun 2 so that there is more power in their conversion of the wine to Christ’s blood. This comes after Debra admits to Irene that she can’t just blindly believe that the wine is the blood of Christ. Irene gives Debra the confidence to believe because of her own faith and the power she exhibits when faced with evil.
The Tale goes, that St. Lucy, the patron saint of the blind, was blinded by pagans because when she was burned alive, she didn’t die. St. Lucy’s family ended up taking her eyes and hiding them away safely. The angel that fell ended up wanting those eyes for himself and took the form of a nun to torment all the descendants of St. Lucy. Irene happens to be one such descendant, and somehow, Valak doesn’t try to kill her first, but instead goes straight for the eyes in the school. Irene realizes that she’s also part of the descendant because she has visions like her mother, who always commented on her eyes. It is her mother’s words that give Irene strength, and as she fights the fire that rises above her skirt, onto her legs, and upto her stomach, she shuts her eyes and remembers those words, said by her mother, that help her face Valak and free herself completely unharmed. This proves that she is, in fact, a descendant of St. Lucy because she, too, doesn’t burn in the fire.
Irene finally learns that she is the one who can do the saving; she just needs to believe in herself, and she can defeat any evil in her way. Irene’s crucifixion becomes the symbol of a miracle in Debra’s eyes. It is a shame, we don’t see any interaction between Irene and Lorraine, and based on the timeline, they would be around the same age. Maybe in The Conjuring: Last Rites, we’ll see the two join forces, even if that may be too far from the Ed and Lorraine Warren’s stories.
Irene’s most significant battles are internal, beginning with her initial reluctance to assist, due to her fear of reliving the traumatic events at the abbey. As she faces the terrifying prospect of imminent danger, Irene must grapple with the challenge of halting destruction using only the power of her mind, all while confronting death itself. In a moment of intense decision-making, Irene is confronted with a heartbreaking choice between saving her dear friend Frenchie or banishing the malevolent demon, even if it means sacrificing Frenchie’s life for the greater good. Ultimately, Irene finds a way to save everyone, proving her resilience and unwavering determination. As the story comes to an end, Irene’s journey may take her back to some remote town in a European country. Here, she would dedicate herself to guiding the lost souls, much like she did with Debra, helping them find their way.