Heart and Soul


Personal approaches to spirituality from around the world.


London, United Kingdom




Personal approaches to spirituality from around the world.




The Right Thing: Framed by my brother

In July 2000 Floyd Bledsoe was convicted of the murder of his 14-year-old sister-in-law in the small Kansas town of Oskaloosa. His older brother Tom had originally confessed to the killing, but later changed his story, accusing Floyd of the crime. A committed Christian, Floyd spent the next 15 years fighting his conviction, and wrestling with the Bible’s teaching to forgive those who have done us wrong. Could he forgive Tom for what he had done? Or his parents, who had sided with one son...


The Right Thing: Opposing sexual violence as a weapon of war

**Contains graphic details of sexual violence against women and children** As a young boy, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Denis Mukwege witnessed his father, a Pentecostal pastor, praying for a sick child. It made him want to help people who suffer – not as a pastor, despite his own Christian faith, but as a doctor. Fast forward to 1999, and Denis Mukwege founded Panzi hospital in Bukavu, a city in the Democratic Republic of Congo, near the Rwandan border. There, over the last 20 years, he has...


The Viking priest

The Ásatrú faith is Iceland's fastest growing religion. Drawing on Norse mythology, it is a pagan faith open to all. But in recent years it has been hijacked by white supremacists in other countries. We follow High Priest, Hilmar Hilmarsson, as he attempts to tackle this critical challenge and protect his faith’s true origins. When white supremacists marched through Charlottesville in 2017, Hilmar looked on from Reykjavik. It was not just their racist message that worried him. It was the...


The battle for souls in Nepal

Nepal has one of fastest growing Christian communities in the world. Helping to drive the growth are South Korean missionaries like Pang Chang-in and his wife Lee Jeong-hee. The couple’s work spreading the word of Jesus is risky. Those found guilty of converting people face up to five years in jail in Nepal. The BBC’s Asia editor Rebecca Henschke and Korean journalist Kevin Kim follow the couple as they open new churches and teach the next generation of Nepali Christian leaders. This is a...


Pope Benedict XVI: A life and legacy

In this special programme to mark the death of Pope Benedict XVI, Colm Flynn explores the life story of the gentle German academic who became the spiritual leader of 1.3 billion Catholics all over the world. The 95-year old Pope Emeritus died at the Vatican on New Year’s Eve 2022. He will perhaps be best remembered as the first Pope to retire in 600 years. But his life and legacy is much more complicated and varied, with a papacy filled with both majestic spiritual moments and embarrassing...


Thich Nhat Hanh’s censored legacy

Thich Nhat Hanh is known as the father of mindfulness. The Vietnamese monk shared Buddhist teaching with the world, and launched a global spiritual movement. But a year on from his death, Thich Nhat Hanh remains a controversial figure in his home country of Vietnam. During his lifetime, he built Plum Village monasteries and meditation centres across the globe – but he couldn’t do it in his home country. His anti-war activism angered the authorities in south Vietnam, and he spent most of his...


Christmas with the cooking priest

Fr Leo Patalinghug is not your typical priest. In one hand he holds a cross, in the other a cooking spatula. With his own international TV show, YouTube channel and cookbooks, this apron-wearing minister is on a mission – to share his faith through food. Growing up on an island in the Philippines, where money was tight, Leo and his family sometimes struggled to put food on the table. It was after moving to the United States that they got a start in life and, from a young age, Leo was always...


The Iran protests

Iran has seen months of protests following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini who was detained by the country's ‘morality police’ (Gasht-e Ershad) on 16 September, three days after her arrest in Tehran. As women-led protests intensify, with calls for freedom against strict dress codes and mandatory hijab, and demands for regime change, Heart and Soul brings together three Iranian women from different walks of life. The BBC’s Faranak Amidi leads the conversation which explores religion,...


Poland's Jews: Caught between, never home

For centuries, Poland was home to millions of Jews in the heart of Europe. Decades after the horrors of the Holocaust, questions of lost identity have arisen. What is it like to be a third-generation Jew in present-day Poland? We meet Małgorzata, who was born into a Jewish family in the late 1980s. She says being a Jew in Poland today means people think you are neither truly Jewish, nor Polish. She is just one of millions of third-generation Jewish people across Central Europe attempting to...


Arizona’s desert crosses

Alvaro Enciso is an artist. He arrived in the US from Colombia in the 1960s and now lives in Tucson, Arizona on the edge of the unforgiving Sonoran Desert. If you are a migrant, this is one of the deadliest places to journey across the border from Mexico into the United States. Many of those who begin that lengthy walk will not make it – thousands have died in the attempt. Alvaro Enciso feels a very human connection to those lives lost. So every Tuesday, he does something extraordinary....


Turtle Island and the Black Snake

Native American Anishinaabe people have been living around the Great Lakes since time immemorial, following spiritual beliefs centred around the water. But they say their way of life is being threatened by an oil pipeline sitting on the bed of the Straits of Mackinac, a volatile waterway connecting two of the Great Lakes, Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. The Line 5 pipeline has been there for 69 years, but only came to public attention after a major oil spill in Michigan led to its discovery....


One scoop or two

Artist Annie Nicholson's life and work have been shaped by loss after her family were killed in a helicopter crash in New York City in 2011. The grief was overwhelming, but slowly she found a way to live her creative practise. During the pandemic, as people around the world were coming to terms with their own losses, Annie bought an old ice cream van and set off - serving up mint choc chip and vanilla scoops- and inviting people to talk about big uncomfortable emotions. Now she is taking the...


Dying in Varanasi

Varanasi is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world and considered the spiritual capital of India. While also holy to Buddhists, Jains and many other sects, it is the most sacred city in Hinduism. Said to have been founded by Lord Shiva, for centuries Hindus have made the pilgrimage from all over the world to the banks of the Ganges River. For many of these pilgrims, they know this will be their last mortal journey. In Hindu tradition it is said that to die in Varanasi,...


Me, my autism and cults

By the time Richard Turner was in his mid-30s, he’d given away nearly all of his money to a church. Everything he held dear had been stripped bare by a religious community in the UK which claimed to have his best interests at heart. It took him years to piece together how this could have happened. It was only in recovery that he was diagnosed with autism, which he believes made him more susceptible to coercive control by a group he now regards as a cult. For Heart and Soul, Richard takes us...


Diwali in Leicester

The English city of Leicester hosts the largest Diwali celebrations outside India. More than 40,000 people gather every year to see the Diwali lights switch on in Belgrave Road. People of all faiths and none attend, but for Leicester’s Hindus, the festivities are an important way of practising their faith and honouring their culture. In Hinduism, Diwali celebrates Lord Rama’s victory over the demon Ravana and Hindus observe it through prayer and by lighting up their houses with clay pot...


From riches to religion

Patrick van der Vorst was a tech multi-millionaire, and had been the head auctioneer at the world famous Sotheby's auction house in London selling tens of millions of pounds worth of art including the contents of Elton John's house. Then he went through what he called "a seismic change" in his life. Turning his back on money, fame and success to pursue something he feels is deeper and more meaningful. "I gave up the home I live in, the bed I sleep in, the food I eat. I had to give up my dog....


God and hip-hop

Christianity and Hip Hop have a long and complex relationship. From Kanye’s Jesus Walks to the development of Christian Hip Hop, artists rapping about their faith has caused controversy in a genre that’s known for its violent oversexualised lyrics. But who’s rapping about God right now and is anyone claiming the title of Christian rapper? Swarzy Macaly, a BBC 1Xtra presenter, is a Christian who works within the mainstream music world, playing secular music. She loves it when she hears people...


Spiritualism and the soul

Twenty-one-year-old journalism graduate, Saskia Masaun has been attending meditation, mediumship and healing classes at the Spiritualists National Union (SNU) Church in Wolverhampton, UK, since she was 16, alongside her spiritualist mother. Saskia explains how her faith, which includes connecting with the spirit world through mediums and a seven principle philosophy described as a ‘guideline for life’, is helping her navigate her journey as she sets out on her career. She speaks to...


The Church and beer

The connections between beer and Christianity flow back down the centuries to the medieval monasteries where it was common practice for monks to brew their own beverages. Self-sufficiency was a core monastic principle, as indeed was the duty to offer pilgrims and visitors food and drink. The monks took the work very seriously, revolutionising brewing techniques with practices and principles that are still in use today. Geoff Bird visits Grimbergen Abbey in Belgium, where brewing took place...


Green Islam

There are hundreds of verses in the Quran calling on Muslims to protect the environment. Islam teaches that everyone is a custodian of nature and should treat the natural environment with respect and care. Sustainability has been part of the faith from the beginning. How are ordinary Muslims around the globe responding to that call? Reporter Zubeida Malik hears about the experiences of a local imam from Indonesia trying to persuade his community to help redress the effects of climate change...