'Abusive' nun barred from flight

An single-minded Franciscan missionary nun has twice been barred from boarding a flight from Shetland to Aberdeen in the UK because British Airways would not allow her to carrying an 60 cm statue of the Virgin Mary.

But the airline said the nun, 64, was grounded because she was abusive to staff.

Sr Ruth Augustus had been travelling around Shetland for five days. The isles are the latest stop in her 15 year world tour of 200 countries to spread her message clutching the fibreglass statue. After she was banned from the flight, she faced a choppy 12-hour journey by sea to Aberdeen.

Speaking about the incident, Sr Augustus told BBC Scotland: "When they said I couldn't take the statue on the plane I said I'm reporting you and it's disgraceful behaviour.

"I don't call that rude, I call it self-defence against a tremendous, unjust and cruel treatment which is disgraceful."

Last month, The Age quoted the spirited nun's euphoric comments after the election of Pope Benedict XVI: "He's very holy, he won't listen to any nonsense about gay marriage."

Sister Augustus says public response from people of all faiths and backgrounds is generally good.

Sr Ruth told the Edgware and Mill Hill Times in 2002 that she had been well-received by prostitutes in the red light district of Amsterdam, and had recently spent time praying with London firemen during the fire strikes.

She has feared for her own life on occasions during her travels. Her suitcases have been emptied in the street, threatened with jail, groped, pushed and verbally abused.

She added: "I have visited some very poor countries. It is heartbreaking to see the state of the world. People in Africa are dying of AIDS, and in the west people are becoming more and more materialistic.

"When I came back to England it is like another land. People take health care and education for granted, they seem to have little idea how people live.

"I do risk my life doing this, but my faith keeps me going. I feel I have a special duty to England."

'Abusive' nun barred from flight (BBC 1/6/05)
Solemn mass and applause for inauguration (The Age 24/4/05)
Sister Ruth has a globetrotting habit (Edgware & Mill Hill Times 18/12/02)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Cornwall is safe from evil (Cornwall24 19/8/04)
'I'm on a mission with Mary' (Reading Evening Post 17/4/03)

2 Jun 2005