The Coolest Geek-Nun Ever

What Women Really Think
May 6 2011 2:58 PM

The Coolest Geek-Nun Ever

Sister Catherine Wybourne is making great strides for the cause of nun humor. On Twitter, the British nun chats about the travails of putting together countless cucumber sandwiches for a charity auction ("Must have been mad" for agreeing to do it, she writes) and pokes a fellow Twitterer for preferring tuna fish sandwiches. "Heretic!" she tweets under the moniker @Digitalnun .

I haven’t seen statistics on the number of nuns who tweet, but it seems a surprising juxtaposition. (So, too, the anachronistic recent photo of Sister Wybourne attending the Vatican’s first ever blogging summit, wearing a wimple and studying her smartphone.) Wybourne is a Benedictine nun who blogs and writes opinion columns and, according to a recent Wall Street Journal piece , is currently developing two iPhone apps, including one for the general public ("about the rule of St. Benedict") and another for parish priests. In most un-nunlike fashion, she told the Journal she plans to charge for the apps: "People do not value what they get for free."


Wybourne’s writing voice is accessible, self-deprecating, and a little geeky. She could not sound less like one imagines a nun to sound, however that is. On her blog , under headlines like "Beatification, Blogging and JP II" she writes about email overload, about having technical difficulties with her phone ("I am quietly tearing my wimple this morning") and invites people to follow some live-blogging from the Vatican conference. ("Please pray for the success of the meeting, and perhaps even for Digitalnun’s ability to cope with the CoveritLive software using nothing more powerful than an iPod Touch!") She also throws in references to Catherine of Siena and the Gospel of Luke. A fascinating anachronism indeed.


Libby Copeland is a writer in New York and a regular Slate contributor. She was previously a Washington Post reporter and editor for 11 years. She can be reached at



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