SISTER Catherine Wybourne, the Benedictine nun better known to her admirers as the “digital nun” (Features, 26 August 2011), died on Thursday of last week, aged 67. The news was announced to her 28,800 followers on Twitter, hundreds of whom responded with sadness and appreciation.
A Cambridge graduate and former banker, Sister Catherine described herself on Twitter as a “Benedictine nun keen on God, books and technology. Likes people too”. She was Prioress of Howton Grove Priory, near Hereford, where the community found a new home after leaving their monastery in Oxfordshire a decade ago.
She found her way into the digital world as a way of raising money for the monastery. In the early days of digital media, she taught herself to create podcasts, websites, and apps that earned her a living. She blogged at ibenedictines.org and was a prolific user of Twitter, offering comfort and wit to tens of thousands, especially during the pandemic. Her community was active on Facebook, and offered a 24/7 prayerline. The computer, she said, was “the modern scriptorium”.
Sister Catherine suffered from cancer for many years. In one of her final posts on her blog, in December, she announced that she was close to death. She wrote that she was now “tidying her sock drawer”, which was “monastic-speak for preparing to die”. She said that the experience of receiving the last sacraments had confirmed her opinion that “Catholicism can be a hard religion to live by but is a beautiful religion in which to die.”
Her final post on Twitter on the morning of the day she died read: “Praying for all tweeps. There are no words for the anguish of Ukraine’s invasion and the consequences for all of us. May the Lord have mercy on us all. #prayer.”