Cloistered: My Years as a Nun

Cloistered: My Years as a Nun

by Catherine Coldstream
Cloistered: My Years as a Nun

Cloistered: My Years as a Nun

by Catherine Coldstream



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"A profoundly moving memoir which gripped me . . . It’s about spirituality and asceticism and silence and sisterhood, but also about how flawed human beings can abuse power and how hermetically sealed communities, which should care for and protect their members, can be dangerously vulnerable to threats from inside their walls.” - Mark Haddon, author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, The Porpoise and others

An astonishing memoir of twelve years as a contemplative nun in a silent monastery.

takes the reader deep into the hidden world of a traditional Carmelite monastery as it approaches the third Millennium and tells the story of an intense personal journey into and out of an enclosed life of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Finding an apparently perfect world at Akenside Priory, in Northumberland, Catherine trusts herself to a group of twenty silent women, believing she is trusting herself to God. As the beauty and mystery of an ancient way of life enfold her, she surrenders herself wholly to its power, quite unaware of the complexity and dangers that lie ahead.

Cut off from the wider world for decades, the community has managed to evade accountability to any authority beyond itself. When Sister Catherine realises that a mesmerising cult of the personality, with the distortions it entails, has replaced the ancient ideal of religious obedience, she is faced with a dilemma. Will she submit to this, or will she be forced to speak out?

An exploration of the limits of trust, Cloistered shows us how far youthful idealism can take us along the road of self-surrender, and of how much harm is done when institutional flaws go unacknowledged. Catherine’s honest account of her time in the monastery – and her dramatic flight from it – is both a love song to a lost community and an exploration of what is most compelling, yet most potentially destructive when closed human groups become laws unto themselves.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250323521
Publisher: St. Martin's Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/12/2024
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: eBook
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 38,403
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

CATHERINE COLDSTREAM converted to Catholicism after her father's death and was a Carmelite nun for twelve years. Aged 39, she left for good, and has since studied at the Universities of Oxford, East Anglia, and London, and taught theology, philosophy and ethics in schools. She never stopped thinking about her life as a nun and has written on many aspects of contemplative spirituality and the arts. She is a viola player and choral singer and lives in Oxford.
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