The singing Ursuline sister: “I have a gift to give”

ROME — Pope Francis’ call for the church to “get out onto the streets” and evangelize helped inspire 25-year-old Ursuline Sister Cristina Scuccia to hit the stage and sing before millions of viewers last week.

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Screengrab of Ursuline Sister Cristina Scuccia, 25, who appeared March 19 on the singing competition TV show, The Voice of Italy.

“I have a gift and I’m giving it to you,” she told judges and her audience after she floored them with her March 19 appearance on the singing competition TV show: The Voice of Italy belting out Alicia Keys’ “No one.”

Sister Cristina actually found her religious vocation thanks to her love for music and the stage.

As a teenager, Cristina had no place for God in her life.

“After Confirmation, I distanced myself from the church and I was angry with God,” she told the Italian religious weekly magazine, Credere.it in July 2013. Even making the sign of the cross before family meals was something she rebelled against, she said.

Singing, voice lessons and doing local festivals and wedding gigs with her band were all she cared about, she said. She had a boyfriend, worked at a call center, went to college and auditioned — unsuccessfully — for spots on two Italian TV talent shows.

Cristina was always on the move, constantly looking for “something that I wasn’t finding in my life, running nonstop without getting the answers I was hoping for,” she told Credere.it.

She said her mother told her about an upcoming musical production of the life of Sister Rosa Roccuzzo, the foundress of the Ursuline Sisters of the Holy Family, and Cristina landed the lead part of Sister Rosa.

“I had shown up in order to be able to sing and dance; but the challenges Sister Rosa had launched a century ago, about the gift of one’s existence, always kept ringing inside me.”

Torn between pursuing music or become a nun, she said she quickly found her way to God, “saying, ‘Here I am,’ like Samuel.”

She spent a year and a half in Rome as a postulant and then did her novitiate in Brazil working with children and young adults on the street in the outskirts of Sao Paulo.

“Music helped me make contact with them and I rediscovered singing as a way to praise the Lord, as something my soul needed, and as an instrument for touching people’s hearts,” she said.

She certainly touched people’s hearts as her performance went viral around the world on YouTube:

The back-and-forth banter between Sister Cristina and the four “coaches” is interesting and revealing. Here’s an English translation of some of what was said during the episode, starting after Sister Cristina explains that she’s from Sicily:

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Screengrab of Italian singer Raffaela Carra’, who is one of the four “coaches” on The Voice.

Raffaella Carrà: Listen Sister Cristina, are you a real nun or…?

Sister Cristina: I’m truly a real nun!

R.C.: It’s not possible. But how did it ever cross your mind to come be on The Voice?

Sr.C.: Well, I have a gift and I’m giving it to you, right? That’s the way it is!

R.C.: Honestly, I would be curious to know, but I won’t conduct an in-depth interview to learn about your decision to become a nun, certainly you had your reasons, however, to be able to sing like this…I’m at a total loss, you know, dear sister?!

Sr.C.: Rather, I can imagine.

R.C.: Well, ok. Also, J-Ax was the first to turn around [to show a vote of approval for her "Blind Audition" tryout].

Sr. C.: J-Ax! He’s the best! It’s so wonderful!

… [back and forth about how she has to choose which coach to join forces with]

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Screengrab of Italian rapper J-Ax, the judge Sr. Cristina chose to be her coach on The Voice.

J-Ax: Hello sister! I am–

Sr. C.: Awesome! [gives thumbs up]

J-Ax: You’re the sister, I’m the “uncle” [dude]. Listen, I’m not sure, but do you sing in church on Sundays?

Sr. C.: Yes, absolutely!

J-Ax: I don’t know, but if you sing in church on Sundays, with the donations, we all can get out of paying ‘IMU’ [taxes] for sure.

Sr. C.: [continues in jest] Perhaps I can suggest it to the parish priest.

J-Ax: If I had found you when I was a child when I used to go to Mass, I’d be pope right now! I would have kept going [to church]!

Sr. C.: Very good! You’ve found it now!

J-Ax: You know how music operates a lot off of a play [a mix of opposites]: sweet-salty, right? The caress-the slap…You and I are unbeatable, you know why? We are the devil and holy water! You have to come on my team!

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Screengrab of Italian blues singer Noemi, who is one of the four “coaches” on The Voice.

Noemi: [About how she couldn't believe her eyes when she turned around and saw a nun singing like that and choosing such a modern song...] No! I beg you. I am holy water like you, we’ll be an impeccable [sinless] duo. Don’t choose the devils!

J-Ax: But we’re just little devils.

R.C.: Well, I’m not a devil, hmpf!

Noemi: Choose holy water!

R.C.: What do you think the Vatican is saying about you appearing on The Voice?

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Sr. C.: Hmm, look, I don’t know, I’ll wait for the phone call from Pope Francis, for sure. Because he invites us to go out, to evangelize, to tell people God doesn’t take anything away [from you], rather he gives us even more! I’m came here for this!

R.C.: Brava! Brava

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Screengrab of Italian rapper J-Ax, the judge Sr. Cristina chose to be her coach on The Voice.

Noemi: He’s starting to cry. [referring to J-Ax who is tearing up even more]

——–

What did you think of Sister Cristina’s performance and its effect on the judges, the audience?

Can this be a positive form of evangelization, as she says?

24 Responses

  1. I tought it was just awesome, and hope J-Ax will give his life and talents to the Lord as well.

  2. She is misguided to identify her choice of irreverence as a ‘gift’

  3. it will all depend on how true Sr. will stay to what she said, and how she will witness to people — i.e. focus on God and not on her.

  4. She has a lovely voice but singing pop music–what is that all about? She is a nun–a bride of Christ–her gift should be used in praising God. I fear for her vocation. She is not meant to be in the secular world.

  5. One word-Awesome!

  6. i think it was wonderful. She has a beautiful voice and she has shared it with others. Goes to show the religious life in not a bore but the Joy of Christ fills ones heart beyond what any materialism can bring.

  7. It was great! She is exactly what the chruch needs today and what I belive that Pope Francis meant when he said: “I think about the times in which Jesus knocks from within so that we will let him come out. The self-referential Church keeps Jesus Christ within herself and does not let him out.”

    Jesus is knocking on the doors of the church so that he can go out into the world though us.

    Sr. Christina is evangilzing in the words that people understand. Keep up the good work Sister!

  8. Sister is doing exactly what Our Lord asked us to do: to engage the world so as to preach the Gospel- in the world- by both word and deed. She gave the judges and all of us much to think about! God works wonders in ways that we can never imagine. Im sure God guided her to that stage and that by her witness and joy she can and will serve souls for Christ. AMDG

  9. Sr. can use her talents to evangelize, however, she must be totally committed to Christ and not be seduced by the popularity and attention that she is getting. God’s gifts are to be used wisely and for His glory not ours.

  10. The lyrics of the song may be a reflection of her relationship with Christ…a relationship she hopes to share with others. She has gotten the attention of many through the use of her gift of voice. May she continue to use her gift to spread God’s message.

  11. June, I must respectfully disagree. Why is a nun not meant to be in the secular world? How can she spread the love of Jesus and of God if she is cloistered? I think what she is doing is wonderful. Perhaps someone who would not listen to religious music normally might listen to her, because they’ve heard her sing popular music. I believe it is evangelization, of the best sort.

  12. Reblogged this on Dear Leila.

  13. She is amazing!!! Her song choice…criticized by some…No One. Listen to the lyrics before you comment. NO ONE WILL GET IN THE WAY OF WHAT I FEEL FOR YOU.

    Sister Christina represents today’s youth…the Catholic Church isn’t just old lady nuns anymore

  14. // “She is a nun–a bride of Christ–her gift should be used in praising God. I fear for her vocation. She is not meant to be in the secular world.”

    Mother Theresa?

    Sister Scuccia is reaching out to the poorest of the poor in her own ways. Look at J-Ax, reduced to tears. Is it not evident?

  15. A Gift, Sister shares it beautifully. Blessings!

  16. For as long as she has Christ with her and she’ s strong enough to counter the worldly celebrity culture, she can pull so many souls to Christ in my opinion.

  17. Ever seen the movie ‘SISTER ACT’?? This movie flashed before me as i seen Sr.Scuccia’s performance. Some may argue that it is just a movie, a work of fiction, but let me assure you that many many Non-Catholics and even athiests raised an eyebrow and even entered into the Catholic Church after seeing that movie. Remember also that the first apostles & disciples evangelized to the world by reaching out to the gentiles (that is all of us), it would have been a shame if they had kept Christ for themselves, right?? In my opinion the VOICE OF GOD through the voice of Sr.Scuccia will reach out and touch millions of hearts (we can see that happening already). God bless you sister :-)

  18. Sister Christina has performed on a secular TV show viewed by possibly millions and then even more on yout tube and got God involved in the discussion. She showed that you can Love God and devote your life to serve Him and be cool at the same time. If her appearing had a positive impact on just one person’s relationship with God she was successful. Pray for Her that Her relationship with God continues to grow and she remains committed to it and that through her special gift the She brings mulitudes to a relationship with Jesus!
    May God bless you and keep you close to Him Sister Christina!

  19. she is doing an amazing job of evangelizing! Pope Francis probably already called her by now.

  20. There is too much speculation in some of these comments. I’m a religious and I see nothing wrong here. At the end of the day, it’s up to the major superior, not the rest of us, to make a prudential judgment call. It is the superior’s role to protect and guide according to the vision and mission of the founder. I fail to see anyone of the comments here reflecting the vision and mission of Mother Rosa. Unless you’re knowledgeable in that score, it’s hard to say what a member of this institute should or should not be doing.

    On another note, Sister Cristina IS NOT A NUN. She is a sister. There is a big big difference between a nun and a sister. Sisters were founded to move about in the secular world. Among the first were the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul. It was always the vision of the Church that sisters make the streets of the cities their convents, modesty their veils and service their Opus Dei.

    Somehow, the laity got into a mold that the sister is to be separate from the secular world. This was never the vision of the founders or the Church. That vision was for nuns, not sisters.

    To conclude, the most beautiful thing that I saw in this video is the joy that this young woman brings into a space. With her dark habit, practical shoes that no other woman would wear in public and her badly cropped hair under a veil, she projects a joy that is bigger than herself. The world needs this kind of joy. People need to see that religious life is not boring, not ethereal and not for angels, but for ordinary human beings who are in love with God and his people.

  21. Thanks to Sr. Christina.
    You are doing what the world is calling for today.
    To go where our people are and evangelize keep it up but do not get lost in the talent.

  22. She is wonderful. I had given up on my church…until now. Has the pope contacted her? I think his blessing will bring a lot of us back where we want to be. In church where everything and everyone is encouraged.

  23. Here are the Lyrics for “No One”… I was inspired to think that Sr. Cristina may have envisioned Christ singing this to humanity, or perhaps humanity to Christ. This is what she sang:

    I just want you close
    Where you can stay forever
    You can be sure
    That it will only get better

    You and me together
    Through the days and nights
    I don’t worry ’cause
    Everything’s going to be alright
    People keep talking they can say what they like
    But all I know is everything’s going to be alright

    No one, no one, no one
    Can get in the way of what I’m feeling
    No one, no one, no one
    Can get in the way of what I feel for you, you, you
    Can get in the way of what I feel for you

    As John Paul II wrote in Theology of the Body, human love is a living image of Divine love – the marriage of husbands and wives is an image of Christ and the church. This is in harmony with these lyrics. Seems to me like she is living out her vocation in the new evangelization of engaging modern culture!

  24. Give back to caesar what is caesar’s and to God what is God’s. It says all… We have to rescue the original catholic faith

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