Pope Francis today called a group of cloistered nuns to thank them for their prayers and to wish them a happy new year. The surprise phone call follows others he has made recently, including one to a group of Carmelite nuns in which he left an amusing answerphone message.
The Holy Father this time called the Olivetan Benedictines of San Giacomo convent near Bari in south east Italy. “I bless you and thank you for your prayers and for your presence,” he said. “Best wishes for a good year.”
“The Pope has called us, what a thrill!” said Sister Maria Francesca Gonzalez, the convent’s Mother Superior from Guatemala. “We thought it was a joke,” she said. “I also spoke with the Pope in Spanish, but I was so excited that I didn’t even remember that we knew the same language.”
The call came just after the recitation of the Angelus, at about 12:30. Some of the nuns, including Sister Maria Francesca, were in the kitchen preparing lunch. Sister Paula, 70, answered the phone, according to an article in La Gazzetta dei Mezzogiorno.
“I replied in the kitchen while the other sisters were busy at the stove,” she said. “The papal secretary told me the Pope was calling. They were endless moments of excitement, my heart was pounding. Pope Francis blessed us and our families. He then asked us to pray for him and I passed him to the Mother Superior.”
The San Giacomo convent in the village of Palo del Colle has 12 nuns of the Benedictine order. As well as prayer and contemplation, they welcome religious groups and specialize in the restoration of liturgical vestments and embroidery in gold and silver.