This fine drama about the long hard task of dimming the ego and learning to love even those who irritate us has been adapted by James Costigan from Rumer Godden's novel. It is directed by George Schaefer. Philippa Talbot (Diana Rigg) is a talented London businesswoman who has decided to give up her position and power to become a nun. The man who loves her is in shock over her departure from his life.
When Philippa arrives at Brede, a cloistered Benedictine monastery, the abbess who was responsible for convincing her to enter this vocation suddenly dies. Her successor is Catherine (Gwen Watford), a sensitive leader who's the first to tell the newcomer to the community that all nuns are to love without a preference for one over another. This becomes very difficult when Joanna (Judi Bowker), a young nun, singles Sister Philippa out and grows very attached to her.
A rich Christian from Japan wants to start a nunnery in his homeland. The abbess designates Dame Philippa to train five Japanese novitiates since she knows the language. Meanwhile Sister Agnes (Pamela Brown) continues to give Philippa a hard time no matter what she does.
One day when Philippa can't seem to cope, the abbess tells her: "Whenever things seem too much for you, go down there to the bottom of the garden . . . and turn, and look back up here at Brede, riding against the sky like a great proud ship, and think of all of us within your sisters. Think of those who were here a hundred years ago and those who will be here a hundred years from now: this long, unbroken line of care and companionship."
In This House of Brede digs into the heart and soul of religious community as these devout and dedicated women struggle with the same emotions that trouble us all jealousy, fear, loneliness, guilt, impatience, and anxiety. The last scenes in the drama illustrate what theologian Paul Tillich defined as reconciliation: "We experience the grace of being able to look frankly into the eyes of another, the miraculous grace of reunion of life with life."
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