This year we took as our topic St Catherine of Siena. She was an extraordinary combination of mystic, practical champion of the poor, and ecclesial reformer. She certainly challenges any view about the place women were meant to have in the Middle Ages!

We began by watching the video of a talk by Fr Robert Ombres OP 'St Catherine of Siena: Compassion and Mysticism' 

(video is 50 mins long)
Then Dr Rosemary Mitchell of the History Department at Trinity University, Leeds, spoke to us about nineteenth century representations of St Catherine - everything from a tool of the sinister Catholic clergy to an early feminist.

Finally, Rosemary led us in session looking closely at a few texts from St Catherine's Dialogue.

As usual, the group shared in Mass and Daily Office with the community - including Night Prayer around the fire. Some of us also had a short local walk (the weather was not at its best), and visited Cartmel to see the medieval priory. This year's film was The Book Thief - if you don't know it, it is set in Germany during World War II, with magnificent acting, especially from the young girl who is the heroine, and a very moving and unusual ending.

As usual, it was lovely to welcome old friends and new, and to give everyone a chance step out of the busy world of academia to pray and talk about the fundamental purpose of study and teaching.