Eight years after his triumph, the Italian religious song sensation is giving up religious life

ROME – An Ursuline nun named “Suor Cristina” who electrified Italy and much of the rest of the world in 2014 by winning a major singing competition has announced that she has left religious life, a turn of events that has was hailed by many church watchers as disappointing but perhaps not entirely surprising.

Nearly nine years ago, Sicilian nun Cristina Scuccia, 34, rose to international fame when she appeared on the Italian competitive singing show, The voicebecoming the winner of the show’s 2014 season at the age of 26, using her award to fund several of her congregation’s charitable projects.

Much of Scuccia’s charm was not just her remarkable voice, but also her looks, shocking the judges who turned to see her dancing to Alicia Keys in the traditional black and white habit worn by the Ursuline Sisters of the Blessed Family, to which she belonged.

Throughout the show, the image of a young nun swaying in front of the stage lights and singing pop songs such as Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” threw the judges on a loop, and Scuccia was quickly become a fan and a favorite show in Italy and beyond. .

His success was met with both praise and skepticism, with many across the Catholic world, including some Vatican officials, celebrating his victory, while others were critical, calling the congregation’s decision to allow him to perform in the world, immature and a potential risk to Scuccia. vocation.

However, Scuccia was unswayed, insisting that she was committed to using her popularity to evangelize and share the joy of Christ with the world.

Screenshot of Cristina Scuccia, 34, during an appearance on Italian TV show Verissimo. The former Ursuline nun and 2014 winner of TV singing show, The Voice, has announced that she has left religious life.

Only a few months after his victory The voice and gaining international recognition for her vocal achievements, she met Pope Francis at a general audience in December 2014 and presented him with a new album.

After his success on The voice, Scuccia was a celebrity. She created her own website where she frequently posted updates on her activities, such as her participation in various music festivals, media appearances and interviews, and solo videos.

At one point, she got shot for releasing her own cover of Madonna’s “Like a Virgin,” saying she chose to do a softer, prayer-like version herself. song “without intention to provoke or scandalize”.

When read “without being influenced by previous interpretations”, the lyrics, she said in an interview with the Italian newspaper Avvenire at the time, reveal that “it’s a song about the power of love to renew people, to save them from their past. And that’s how I wanted to interpret it.

However, despite her initial zeal to evangelize, Scuccia revealed on a recent episode of an Italian talk show Verissimo that after 15 years in the convent, she gave up religious life.

Appearing fully made up and dressed in an elegant red suit, she told host Silvia Toffanin that her years in the Ursuline order were “the most beautiful of my life, an intense experience that made me grow a lot “.

She told Toffanin that she originally decided to join the Ursuline Sisters after participating in a musical they were organizing to honor the birth of their founder, Rosa Roccuzzo.

Scuccia said that when she first took the stage in this musical in February 2008, she felt like “something was changing inside me” and she first felt the call to join. the order in May, saying the dates stuck in her mind “because it’s like falling in love, or falling in love.”

After entering a time of formal discernment with the community, she entered the novitiate in Brazil, where she said seeing women and men in religious orders singing on stage “is very natural.”

“When you meet God, you feel like singing, dancing, praising,” she said, saying at the start that her fame and the praise she has drawn from musical icons such as Madonna and many others. others were exciting and motivating.

However, Scuccia said she eventually began to feel the pressure that came with her fame and exposure to international media, and the sisters sought to shield her from it. While this isolation was initially a relief, after a while it became suffocating, she said.

While she endured this, Scuccia said her father had fallen ill, so she left to join her mother at his bedside, where she began to feel a freedom she hadn’t felt in a long time, being able to make simple decisions for herself, such as eating at a different time than established in the convent.

Scuccia said she then went through a deep crisis and started seeing a therapist, saying, “When you only see black, you need someone to ask for help. I couldn’t figure out who I was anymore. I never questioned God, but my growth could no longer fit the rules.

After her father’s death, Scuccia took a year-long sabbatical during which she traveled and spent time in silent prayer before deciding to leave the convent.

Today Scuccia lives in Spain and works as a waitress, but says she wants to keep making music and “I live with a smile”.

When asked if she had a romantic interest, Scuccia replied, “it’s not a priority right now,” but that “if he came, I wouldn’t push him away. I believe in love, I am in love with life and myself. You have to take care of yourself and love yourself in order to be able to love others.

“Sister Cristina is inside me, if I am who I am today it is also thanks to her,” she said, saying, “I had a wonderful trip, though difficult, complex. But today, I am smiling. I haven’t lost (my) faith.

Follow Elise Ann Allen on Twitter: @eliseannallen

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