Oscar-winning actress Vanessa Redgrave has narrated a beautiful animated film for a website designed to help people coping with issues surrounding the end of life.

Although devised by the Church in England and Wales and based in the Catholic tradition, the Art of Dying Well site is open to all.

Ms Redgrave is widely acknowledged to be one of the greatest actors of her generation and won an Academy Award for the title role in the 1977 film Julia, as well as five other Oscar nominations.

She narrates the story of the fictional Ferguson family, whose father asks to see a priest when he is diagnosed with terminal cancer.

He receives the Sacrament of the Sick in his final days even though he hasn’t been to Mass for many years, as well as planning hymns and readings for his funeral and even healing a rift with his son.

The site was officially launched last year at a Mass in Westminster Cathedral celebrated by Cardinal Vincent Nichols.

It is designed for everyone, including those who are dying, their friends, family and carers and content includes short videos, testimonies and case studies.

The idea was inspired by the Ars Moriendi or “Art of Dying”, a popular 15th century manuscript designed to bring Christian comfort and practical guidance to dying people and their families.

The original Latin texts and illustrations offered advice on the protocols and procedures for a good death. It included deathbed etiquette and prayers as well as the five temptations that a dying person might face and the prescribed antidotes.

The website is a modern approach to explaining the Church’s comforting rites and rituals that can help a person spiritually prepare for the final journey.

Visit the new site at artofdyingwell.org.


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