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Catholic Church turns to Instagram to help people face death

It is part of a new initiative The Art of Dying, which offers ‘a helping hand’ to those dealing with death and bereavement

A new initiative from the Catholic Church in England and Wales is using Instagram to address the subject of death.

Inspired by the Ars Moriendi, or “Art of Dying", a popular fifteenth century manuscript which gave Christian comfort and advice to those dying or suffering a bereavement, a website and Instagram page has been launched.

The Art of Dying Well website is produced by experts in palliative care, chaplaincy and history. As well as information and guidance, Catholic rites and special Prayers for the Dying are illustrated in an animated story narrated by English actress Vanessa Redgrave.

The initiative’s Instagram page acts as a ‘Remember Me’ virtual memorial wall where people are invited to share photos of loved ones and memories.

By tagging pictures with #TheArtofDyingWell, photos will be shared with five convents and abbeys who will remember and pray for those in the pictures.

The five convents and abbeys taking part are the Carmelite Monastery in west London, the Benedictine nuns at St Cecilia’s Abbey on the Isle of Wight, monks at St Michael’s Abbey in Hampshire, the Hospitaller Order of St John of God, based in Darlington, and the Alexian Brothers in Manchester.

A spokesman said: “It aims to help people keep death in mind, so as to fully embrace life now."

In an article for this week’s Catholic Herald, Fr George Bowen, a priest of the London Oratory who has been helping steer the project, said: “If the website helps more of us engage with dying in spiritually fruitful ways such as these, then it will have done what it set out to do. The bishops’ initiative also reminds us of the importance of praying for the dead.

“This is simply the beginning of what we hope will grow into a powerful means to bring consolation, grace and spiritual growth to many people near and far from the Church."


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