Pope Francis calls Spanish convent for the second time

Pope Francis greets pilgrims during the Wednesday General Audience on April 23, 2014. Credit: Kyle Burkhart/CNA.

Calling a Carmelite convent in Lucena, Spain, for the second time since December, Pope Francis contacted the nuns asking them to give his affection and blessing to all the people in their town.

According to COPE, a Spanish radio network that is partially owned by Spain’s Episcopal Conference, Pope Francis sent his “affection, health and blessing” to the city of Lucena during a Saturday, Aug. 2, phone call.

It was roughly 4:30 p.m. when the sisters of the Convent of the Discalced Carmelites of Lucena heard their phone ring, and were surprised when they picked it up to hear the voice of Pope Francis on the other end of the line.

This call marks the second time the Roman Pontiff has dialed the community since his election as Bishop of Rome, the first being a Dec. 31, 2013, phone call to wish them a happy new year.

Having received only the answering machine in his first attempt to contact the community, the pontiff left them a voice mail, jesting, “What are the nuns doing that they can't answer? I am Pope Francis, I wish to greet you in this end of the year. I will see if I can call you later. May God bless you!”

After overcoming their shock at both receiving a call from the pontiff and missing it, the nuns, who were praying when the call came, consulted their bishop, Emilio Z. Marquez, and then attempted to call the pontiff back.

Having no answer, they waited and after a few hours had the joy of receiving another call from the Pope, which they were sure to answer.

The prioress of the convent, Sister Adriana, has known Pope Francis for 15 years, and has been sending him letters containing the intentions of the city’s inhabitants, who gave them to the sisters to send to the Pope, COPE reports.

The Pope, she explained, wanted to respond to these letters with this new call by sending a message of "affection, health and blessing" and insisted that they "be good."

COPE reports that Sister Adriana spoke with Spanish news agency La Mañana, assuring that the Roman Pontiff knows that “in Lucena and in Spain we are praying for him.”

She also said that the pontiff found it very funny that in Spain he has been called “Pope Curro,” which is another name often attributed to those named “Francisco.” It would be the equivalent of calling someone named Elizabeth “Liz.”

Pope Francis reminded the nuns of his December voice mail, which was published in papers and news outlets across Spain and Latin America with headlines lauding the closeness of the Pope to his people, and spoke with them about the uproar it caused.

At the end of the call, the Bishop of Rome asked the community to speak with “the chaplain of Lucena, so that the rest of the priests from the city send this message” of affection and blessing “to everyone.”

Out of the five nuns in the cloistered community, three hail from the pontiff’s native country of Argentina, including Sister Adriana.

The community is eagerly hoping for the visit of the Pope to Spain for the 500th anniversary of the birth of St. Teresa of Avila, foundress of the Discalced Carmelites, in 2015.

Although the Vatican has said nothing so far, both the country’s new king, Phillip VI, and the president of their Episcopal Bishops Conference, Msgr. Ricardo Blazquez, have sent invitations.


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