Wednesday, 2 November 2011


I've had a strange obsession with nuns ever since I was old enough to understand the Sound of Music. At that point I had my life planned: I would become a nun and then marry the father of the children I was looking after. Being a nun seemed to mean singing a lot and then meeting a sexy navel officer and marrying him - I was obviously up for that! I realised that this wasn't really going to work, not least because I don't actually believe in God... Then there was a time in my teens when some of my friends and I decided we should found an order of atheist nuns. I'm still not sure what that would have entailed, maybe just all living together and doing good and being moral and loving and singing a lot. But my love and admiration for nuns never wavered. I find all religious devotion fascinating but nuns especially so. Can you feel anything but respect and awe for someone who would give up most aspects of normal life, even those they may want like children, to live a completely selfless life devoted to helping others. I feel like it's pointless to try and explain how much I admire and love nuns - everyone must love nuns as much as me?

At school the most amazing person in the whole world came to see us from time to time, Sister Frances Dominica. She's a nun and she's called Frances so I would have loved her even if she hadn't been amazing, but she is. She started Helen House the first hospice for children, and then Douglas House, a hospice for young adults. She became a nun even though it meant her mother couldn't bear see her for years because she felt called to it. She just knew one day that she should become a nun, despite having a very different plan for her life and wanting to get married and have hundreds of children. Amazingly she actually has a child, a boy she adopted from Ghana and they live together in a house near the convent just like a normal mother and son. She is simply extraordinary. You should listen to her on Desert Island Discs here

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