Sister Wendy Beckett on New Year and Christmas

For the government to reduce the country's debts and people to prepare themselves for the spending cuts to come: that is what Sister Wendy Beckett will be praying for in this new year.

While some of us may have been nursing a New Year's Day hangover yesterday or deciding to which resolution we will definitely stick this time, the 80-year-old nun and art writer will spend the day continuing her routine of silence and private prayer.

Her devout daily traditions will not bend to mark the passing of the year, just as they did not budge for the celebration of Christmas, which she spent mostly alone inside her caravan on the grounds of the Carmelite Monastery at Quidenham.

However the charismatic recluse, who became famous in the 1990s presenting television art programmes and has written more than 25 books, said she would be dedicating her thoughts to the party-goers, hoping they did not drink too much and, more profoundly, that they would be able to brace themselves for the financial trials of the coming months.

'I hope they have a lovely ceremony as one year becomes another full of good things ahead and hope not too many upset themselves with the misery of hangovers,' said Sister Wendy.

'I pray for the country that we get our debts diminished and people can be mature enough and responsible enough to accept that the government doesn't want the cuts. Some say it is a cruel imposition and it is cruel and causes suffering, but it does seem the only way we can pay off those debts unless we take a severe cut in our living standards.

'I realise it's all right me saying that, but I do feel strongly about that.

Most Read

'I hope people will be mature enough to be ready if called upon.'

She added that she did not believe in new year resolutions.

'I have never understood so many resolutions: if it's something you should be doing, then why are you not doing it already?

'My great longing is to come closer to God, and I always hope that, if there's something I need to be doing, then I would see it or the sisters who look after me would point it out,' she said.

Sister Wendy left home at 16 to become a nun and can barely picture her last family Christmas.

Although she receives cards, she prefers to ignore the usual festive decorations and instead just displays three colourful figures of Joseph, Mary and the Christ child in her caravan.

She said: 'It's exactly the same as any other day.

'I get up just after midnight. In that sense, you may ask why I don't go to midnight mass, but I'm not allowed to any more because the sisters do not think I'm physically able to.

'So, I get up and then I pray solidly until I go to morning mass. I have coffee to sustain me and a slice of bread.

'On feast days I do not have lunch at home. I have the beginning of the sisters' lunch but not with them; I eat in a small room in the monastery.

'I had some fish, peas and buttered sprouts: I'm one of the people who love sprouts.

'And then I come home and I pray, read, have a bit more coffee and go to bed by 6pm because I'm getting up so early.

'It's a very uneventful but happy day, speaking to no one but to the person who brings me my meal.'

Sister Wendy added that her festive prayers focused on families spending Christmas Day together.

'Although for many people it's a happy day, it's a stressful day.

'There are all sorts of tensions that arise, as there's the making of the meal, giving presents, making sure everyone is happy with their presents...' she said.

'I'm glad just to be in silence so I can pray for those people who are enjoying and enduring the tensions of this great family feast. I live in silence and pray not for my own sake but for the sake of other people.'

Sister Wendy will be adding to her literary back catalogue in due course with a written commentary for an exhibition by artist Greg Tricker, following on from the success of her most recent book, Real Presence: In Search of the Earliest Icons, which was launched in August.