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Italy’s ‘singing nun’ Sister Cristina covers Madonna’s ‘ …

(RNS) Italy's singing nun, Sister Cristina Scuccia, covered Madonna's famous "Like a Virgin" for her debut album.

ROME (RNS) Italy’s singing nun Sister Cristina Scuccia, who became a global sensation after winning a TV reality show, has chosen Madonna’s controversial classic “Like a Virgin” as the first single from her debut album.

Sister Cristina, 26, says her version of the salacious pop song is a “testimony of God’s capacity to turn all things into something new” as well as her personal calling to be a nun.

A black and white video of the nun’s cover has been released on the musical site Vevo. Dressed in full black habit and veil, wearing sensible black shoes and a cross around her neck, she sings against stunning backdrops in Venice. There are none of the raunchy moves Madonna included in the original version, filmed on the city’s gondolas in 1984.

“I chose it, without any intention to be provocative or scandalous,” Sister Cristina told the Italian bishops’ daily Avvenire this week. “I wanted to transmit calmness and poetry. I really think we succeeded.”

When Madonna’s version was first released 30 years ago, conservatives called for the song to be banned because they believed it — and the original video clip — promoted sexual promiscuity and undermined family values.

During her 1990 Blond Ambition Tour, Madonna went a step further and sang the song on stage while simulating masturbation on a red silk bed. Canadian police threatened to arrest her in Toronto for indecency.

Sister Cristina said, as far as she knew, Madonna had not yet heard her version. “But I would love to see her face when she does and when they tell her that it is a nun singing it,” she said.

The Sicilian nun has attracted 100 million hits on YouTube since she appeared on the Italian version of “The Voice” singing themes such as Alicia Keys’ “No One,” which is also included on the new album.

Fans are already welcoming Sister Cristina’s debut recordings. “If the nuns at my high school were like her, I’d be evangelizing the masses now,” one tweeted.

“She’s back with a vengeance,” said another.

The nun’s album, to be released on Nov. 11, has been produced by Elvezio Fortunato and recorded in several studios in Los Angeles.

She said she felt “small” when she considered how famous she had become and felt a duty to be a “witness” to Jesus Christ and her faith.

KRE/MG END McKENNA

About the author

Josephine McKenna

Josephine McKenna has more than 30 years' experience in print, broadcast and interactive media. Based in Rome since 2007, she covered the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and election of Pope Francis and canonizations of their predecessors. Now she covers all things Vatican for RNS.

23 Comments

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  • It is very sad that young nuns want to be so secular and represent someone who is looked upon as scandalous. I thought they were to be humble, no big egos, but looking to serve God. This nun should watch the movie “Mother Teresa” starring Debra Winger, she might find a worthwhile purpose in becoming a nun! I will pray for her, so sad.

  • Now that Mr. Francis is in charge, it seems that all kinds of mess and goop is exploding across Catholicism.

    Yes, let’s all sing “Like A Virgin”. And let’s also sing “Shake Your Groove Thing” as well. Surely these are the great Sunday morning hymns of the church !!

  • This is just pure poetry…. this is real Love, love pure and clear. A Nun is Jesus spouse… so nothing weird, listen with you heart… you will understand. And the coherence of Sister Cristina (who just renewed her wows) gives value to this message.
    She has this carisma and gift: “Each, according to the gift he has received, put it at the service of others” (1 Pt 4,10)

  • Everyone needs to view this video. Period!

    The Sister sings to God and is His messenger to the world. She takes Madonna’s song and twists it to be a powerful and beautiful song unlike its original release from Madonna in the 1980s.

    It’s obvious the Sister has a special mission from God himself.

    God Bless Sister and thank you so very much!!!

  • Victoria,

    I agree and I am not even Catholic…stick to dispensing spiritual matters and not getting involved in matters of the world!

  • “Like a virgin, touched for the very first time..”

    She is singing about having sex with Jesus.

    Congratulations, sister, on the creepiest video I’ve seen this year.
    And if the Church weren’t so prudish and bigoted about sex and sexuality it would be sort of fun.

    If every nun can sing about sex with Jesus this way, it opens up a lot of rather serious questions:

    Isn’t lust outlawed?
    Isn’t lust a sin?
    If she is thinking about Lust with Jesus, isn’t she guilty of adultery as Jesus said?
    But sex with Jesus – isn’t that actually adultery?
    Or was she ‘married to Jesus’ when she became a nun?
    And if she was ‘married to Jesus’ along with the other nuns, wouldn’t that be polygamy? Isn’t polygamy a sin?

    Isn’t she encouraging masturbation? “touched for the very first time” is about fingers – not spirit – especially if you are a virgin.
    Isn’t that a sin?

    Of course Christianity loves to play both sides – they like to tease, then punish.
    But never just INDULGE!
    how dull…

  • Beautiful! “To love God is the greatest of all romances! And to pursue Him is the greatest of all adventures!”

    Bravo Sister Cristina!

  • If she wanted to be secular, she would have removed most of her clothes and danced about in a sensual manner. What Sister Cristina is engaged in is subversion.

  • @Victoria Dorsey,

    “This nun should watch the movie “Mother Teresa” starring Debra Winger,”

    That is funny because Debra Winger is an Atheist.

    If the Mother Teresa story did not persuade Debra Winger, why should it work for anybody else.

    Max Von Sydow played Jesus in the “The Greatest Story Ever Told” and it did not stop him from being an Atheist either.

  • Bravo to Sister Cristina Scuccia! Bravo to the production team! Bravo for the marketing team!
    Some would argue that this is blasphemy; that nuns shouldn’t be seen or heard trying to reach what is better known as the “material girls.” In an earlier article of mine reflecting on the dwindling Orders of nuns (please feel free to read it); I had mentioned in the article that the habit visually differentiated the nuns from everyone else. Noting the overwhelming favorable response to the video is the fact that Sister Cristina Scuccia is a nun and that she is wearing her official clothing.
    A very big part of marketing is appearance. You ask, “How can I equivalate Jesus with Sister Cristina?” Open your eyes to your heart to see what few could see when Jesus asked Zacchaeus to lodge in his house. All those around Jesus could only see Zacchaeus as a sinner. Is Sister Cristina a sinner for singing her love for Jesus?
    There are many occasions in the Bible where Jesus’ message is very visual, even though those who are born with eyesight are blind to Jesus’ love and understanding. Can you imagine how blasphemous; this song could create an atmosphere that 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 year old little girls would actually show up at your door in full habit with a smile on their face, a twinkle in their eyes, with soft whispering voices that ring out in a cold, dark night, “Trick or treat!”
    Whether you like it or not, Sister Cristina accomplished the first goal of a teacher: to get the attention and interest of the student to think about the subject. Jesus did a very good job at getting our attention and interest. I have a personal feeling Sister Cristina read the Bible and, even worse, she may even know Jesus. The only question now is, can she uphold the standard of His love?

  • And where exactly in the Bible does it say that nuns should wear “habits” and that popes should wear decadent clothing (and hats) like the Scribes and Pharisees (religious leaders in Jesus’ day) did?

    As Jesus himself said, “Moreover, do not call anyone father on earth, for one is your Father, the heavenly one (God). Neither be called leaders, for one is your Leader, the Christ” (Matthew 23:9,10).

    Why is there such a distinction between the clergy and laity these days, when there is no basis for it?

  • John,

    If she is really God’s messenger, she should be preaching the good news of God’s kingdom or heavenly government as the ONLY hope for mankind, just as Jesus did when he was on earth (Matthew 4:17), and which is being preached by Christians in over 200 lands and hundreds of languages before the end of this wicked system comes (Matthew 24:14).

  • High 5 Philip! I was really impressed with her creativity in reaching out to lost souls and understand the power of social media. I think she successfully manipulated Madonna and the media. Madonna took the bait, brought attention to the nun’s song in her social media, and now you have Madonna fans and gossip sites passing on far and wide a nun’s song about God’s love (instead of labeling her as ‘Jesus freak’ or just have apathy). People are liking it, with the Youtube video having more than 88% Likes and Madonna fans and media commenting positively on it, calling it ‘sublime’, ‘beautiful’, ‘epic’, ‘transform’, ‘brain reboot’. The door to the public’s hearts and minds are now ajar.

    I have even seen comments like: ‘Makes me want to give religion a try.’ and ‘Love it, makes me feel alive!’

    As a Catholic, I think that the church should work as a team to help bring lost souls to God, the good Sister has planted seeds far and wide but as with everything, it needs nurturing, so we all should do our part in sharing God’s message of love.

  • She is serving God with the use of her vocal talents, and using them to subtly spread the beauty of her faith and of God’s love for us. I think accusing her of wanting to be secular is uncalled for as well. She’s already stated that the spotlight makes her uncomfortable, she doesn’t want any of the money (it’s all going to fund her communities various projects) and that she’s just fine with being with the children at her monastery. However, her Superiors obviously want to make use of her vocal talent to reach those whom would normally have no interest with anything about God or religion. And with her beautiful, God-given voice, she is able to reach them, and influence them in a positive way. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but she is always talking about God, and her desire to have everyone meet Him, as she has..

    Thanks be to God for her voice, but yes, let’s pray for, though. She, like all of us, needs it so that she can remain faithful to our Beloved Lord.

  • Fran, there are many ways of evangelizing and spreading the Gospel message, and none us have any right to tell her or her community how to evangelize since they do it however is the intended method of the founder of the particular religious community. And each community has their way of doing things.

    Right now, though, because of her beautiful voice, she is able to subtly reach those whom would normally not care to have anything to do with God. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Sr. Cristina is always talking about God, and leaving her future up to Divine Providence, as well as her desire to have everyone meet Him, as she has.

    This song, too, and her interpretation of it, is extremely beautiful and spiritual. It’s really a song about God making all things new, despite a person’s baggage, and however sinful of a life they previously lived.

  • Singing Nuns are nothing new, and the joy they bring ( my brother and I, no more than 6 or 7 years old, in the upstairs hallway of our big old house, playing ‘Dominique’ over and over and over ) and also the emotional outburst when all faith is thrown out the window ( the door to my older sisters’ room flying open, my sister, unceremoniously, but not without conviction, yanks the record off the turntable and breaks it over my brothers head ) A memory forever etched in my mind. Never under-estimate the power of a singing nun.
    C’mon Sister, Like A Virgin? Madonna? Quentin Tara-whats his name? Not what I’d call good company.But not for me to judge. Your motives? Between you and Him. Because He Knows…… He knows. I wonder what kind of penance my sister got for breaking a singing nun record? Whatever it was, I’m sure it was worth it.

  • This is not about sexual intercourse with Christ. A nun is a bride of Christ. She is bound to Him through vows of Poverty, CHASTITY and obedience. Marriage in the Catholic sense is offering oneself as a gift to the other in a sacred union. Nuns are united to Christ not in a bodily way as husbands and wife do, but in a spiritual way for life. God TOUCHES our HEARTS with His love.

  • Priests, Bishops and Cardinals have been exploding all kinds of mess and goop across Catholic children for the last 2,000 years, way before Mr. Francis was in charge.

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