Sister Wendy Beckett made a difficult combination seem effortless


By ERASMUS

SISTER WENDY led the life of a very skilled tightrope-walker, and millions of people seemed to enjoy watching her perform. She was, on the face of things, a fairly old-fashioned Catholic nun, not the new-fangled sort who engages in social work and wears ordinary clothes. Wendy Beckett entered a religious congregation, one with a teaching vocation, at the age of 16, and lived a life of committed celibacy for another seven decades.

Her will to spend many hours a day in prayer seemed unshakeable until her death on December 26th at the age of 88. One turning-point in her life came in 1970. After developing epilepsy, she migrated from South Africa to Britain. Here, she left her teaching order, but in no way did she abandon her religious vocation. Instead she settled in a mobile home in the grounds of a convent run by the strict Carmelite order and continued to live in these Spartan conditions for much of her remaining life.

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