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Sister Wendy Beckett

Sister Wendy Beckett, nun and art expert, is interviewed by Kirsty Young.

Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the nun, writer and broadcaster Sister Wendy Beckett.

For over 40 years she's lived the life of a hermit, rising every day at midnight to spend seven hours praying. Her home is a caravan in the grounds of a Carmelite Monastery where she spends her days in silence - speaking only once a day to the nun charged with delivering her daily food rations of skimmed milk, cold cooked vegetables and two rice crackers.

Her self-imposed isolation has only been broken by the - frankly rather unlikely - occurrence of a television career. She is the nun who knows about art and her passionate and pithy critiques of the world's great works and hidden treasures have won her many devoted fans.

With decades of solitude and prayer under her belt she seems, unlike nearly every other guest, to be perfectly cut out for a stretch alone on a desert island.

She says "It's my apostolic duty to talk about art. If you don't know about God, art is the only thing that can set you free".

Producer: Christine Pawlowsky.

Available now

45 minutes

Music Played

Add music you love and enjoy it with My Tracks
  • Frédéric Chopin

    Polonaise in A Major Op. 40 No 1

    Performer: Vladimir Ashkenazy

    • Favourite Chopin Vladimir Ashkenazy.
    • DECCA.
  • Thomas Hampson

    Beautiful Dreamer

    Composer: Stephen Foster

    • American Dreamer songs of Stephen Foster Thomas Hampson.
    • Angel.
  • Voces

    Regina Coeli

    Cantor: Tony Yates Director: Martyn Warren

    • Easter Praise: Gregorian Chant.
    • The Sunday Times Music Collection.
  • Castaway's Favourite

    • Franz Schubert

      Serenade

      Performer: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Gerald Moore

      • Schubert: Schwanengesang.
      • EMI Classics.
  • Johannes Brahms

    Lullaby

    Performer: Martin Jones

    • Martin Jones: “Dished up for Piano” Volume Two.
    • NIMBUS.
  • Voces

    Pange Lingua Gloriosi

    Cantor: Tony Yates Director: Martyn Warren

    • Easter Praise: Gregorian Chant.
    • The Sunday Times Music Collection.
  • Giuseppe Verdi

    Ai nostri monti (from Il trovatore)

    Performer: Placido Domingo and Dolora Zajick

    • Il Trovatore.
    • Sony Classical.
  • Franz Schubert

    Du bist die Ruh

    Performer: Bryn Terfel

    • Bryn Terfel (Baritone): An Die Musik.
    • Deutsche Grammophon.
  • Book Choice

    • An enormous book of logical puzzles

  • Luxury Choice

    • Refrigerated tabernacle

Credits

Role Contributor
Presenter Kirsty Young
Interviewed Guest Wendy Beckett

Broadcasts

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