Pontiff Welcomes Visitationists to Cloister

Nuns Lend Prayerful Support to Pope

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By Jesús Colina

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 25, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is welcoming the new community of women religious who will live in the Vatican’s cloistered convent over the next five years.
The nuns are from the contemplative order of the Visitation of Holy Mary founded by St. Frances de Sales and St. Jane Frances de Chantal in 1610. They are commonly known as Visitationists or Salesian sisters.
On Sunday, after reciting the midday Angelus with the pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope acknowledged the contribution of these nuns to the Church: «Your prayer, Dear Sisters, is very precious to my ministry.»
The Visitationists are replacing seven Benedictine women who lived in the «Mater Ecclesiae» cloister and who, in addition to praying for the Holy Father, offered him the vegetables from their small garden and knitted some of his sacred ornaments.
Not only did the Pope thank these nuns, but also all women in the world dedicated to prayer, and he renewed «to all the invitation to support them in their needs.»

The new community includes seven Spanish sisters: Maria Begoña Sancho Herreros and Maria Paz Catalán Pueyo from Burgos; Maria Gladys Beltrán Parra from Oviedo, Pilar Maria Trujillo Barraquero from Seville, Ana Maria Prieto del Corral from Valladolid, and Maria Belén Martin López from Madrid. Italian Sister Maria Francesca Padovan is from San Vito.
The Visitationists are organized in autonomous convents, each governed by a superior. Today these religious number some 3,000, including both nuns and novices, who live throughout the world in over 168 convents.
The Mater Ecclesiae convent was initiated on May 13, 1994, from Pope John Paul II’s idea to create a monastic community of contemplative women religious within the Vatican walls. He wanted a community there to lend their prayerful support to the activity of the Holy Father and his collaborators in the Roman Curia.
Every five years, the a different religious order takes up residence in the convent. The Benedictines were preceded by the Carmelites, and the latter by the Poor Clares.

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