15 August 2019, The Tablet

Disciple of joy

Disciple of joy

The future nun as a student and, inset, as a Benedictine


She was an enclosed Benedictine whose short life touched people across the globe. As her collected writings are published, she is remembered by one of her legion of friends

In June 2017, when it became clear that there was not much time left, word went out to Sr Mary David’s friends across the world that she was dying. It came to the one-time curator of Knossos working in the library there, to a physicist at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma in Mexico City, to a financier in New York and another in Mumbai, to the British Ambassador in Abu Dhabi, a conservationist in Wales, an evolutionary biologist at Cornell, an architect in Atlanta, and many others.
The email exchanges between these friends in the last few months of Sr Mary David’s life before she died at the age of 60 in the contemplative Benedictine Abbey of St Cecilia on the Isle of Wight make remarkable and moving reading. Again and again, they sound the note of joy. “What have you learned from your illness?” one dared ask her. “Acceptance – acceptance with joy,” she replied. “We return full of joy, and sadness too, of course, but joy above all,” another wrote after visiting her.

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