When nuns attack! A convent tale from Italy

By staff writers
October 3, 2007

The peace and tranquility associated with religious life has been rudely punctured in a convent in Italy, which is being shut down after a fight between its last three remaining nuns - in a dispute which has resulted in a letter to the Pope.

So badly have relations deteriorated between the Sisters of Santa Clara in Bari that the Mother Superior has ended up in hospital with scratches to her face, reports the BBC.

The local archbishop has now intervened and asked the Vatican for permission to close the convent.

Sister Liliana is on her own there at the moment. She says she has no intention of leaving her home of the past 44 years, although attempts have been made to get her to find another abode.

The Clarissa nuns are regarded as perhaps the most austere order of the Roman Catholic Church, devoted to a life of prayer, poverty, penance and quiet contemplation.

But the media is reporting that at the Santa Clara convent in Bari, the vow of silence was shattered by an unholy row.

Sisters Annamaria and Gianbattista say they were driven to distraction by the nasty habits of their Mother Superior, Sister Liliana.

They became so angry that during the summer they turned on her, allegedly scratching her face and throwing her to the ground.

The two nuns have now moved into a nearby convent, leaving Sister Liliana barricaded inside.

Despite the efforts of the Archbishop Giovanni Battista Pichierri to reconcile the three sisters he has been forced to call on the Vatican for help.

He wrote to the Holy See telling them the sisters had "clearly lost their religious vocation" and with only one nun remaining has asked for permission to close the convent down.

But Sister Liliana is not going without a fight.She has been at the nunnery for 44 years and she is not going to be pushed about now.

She has written to the Pope telling him she will only leave when God decides it is time to go.

With kind acknowledgements to the BBC.

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