The shadowy charisma of the Mater Dei sisters

Catriona has a commission to paint the 17th-century façade of the chapel of St Joseph’s. She’d made a start when she decided that a foreground figure would lend greater interest and perspective to the composition. Following an email exchange, one of the nuns agreed to pose on the stony path leading up to the chapel for a photograph, from which Catriona would complete the work. At the appointed time she clanked the bell beside the pointed nunnery door. I was her out-of-breath photographer’s assistant. After two long minutes, the door opened and the youngest and prettiest of the seven sisters stepped from the cloister into the windy world. Two years