Francis’s Camaldolese visit: the U.S. connection

There’s beautiful video available now from Pope Francis’s visit earlier today to the Camaldolese Monastery of Sant’Antonio Abate in Rome. Beautiful prayer in a beautiful chapel, and beautiful words from the Pope about faith, hope, and the mother of Jesus (an initial report here). The event is part of the conclusion of the Church’s observance of a Year of Faith, inaugurated on October 11, 2012, by Pope Benedict XVI.

As Vatican Radio reports, there’s an interesting American connection to today’s event. The report refers to “the cell of a fellow sister [of the monastery the Pope will visit today] who died in 1990”:

She’s American born Julia Crotta who lived in seclusion for forty five years in this tiny space, sleeping on a wooden bed with a cross carved into it, participating in the monastery liturgies by peeking through a tiny window above the chapel, receiving communion through a cloth flap placed on the door and like the other sisters taking part in their production of little crosses made out of palm leaves for the Vatican. A charismatic figure, who took the name of Sister Nazarena, with reference to the reserved life of Jesus of Nazareth. And one whose reputation reached the ears of many, among them Thomas Merton. On Thursday Pope Francis will enter this cell.

The story of Julia Crotta is an interesting one. There’s more here at the Citydesert blog. A snippet from that post:

Not even her family quite understands why Julia Crotta undertook so arduous a vocation. She was born and raised in Glastonbury, Connecticut. Julia, her family remembers, was a cheerful, fun-loving girl with an aptitude for music. She studied violin and theory at the Yale School of Music, but left to take a four-year liberal arts course at New Haven’s Albertus Magnus College for women. “She loved life, dancing, good movies and good clothes,” says a brother-in-law.

After college, Julia taught violin and piano, worked in Manhattan. She was briefly engaged to marry, but broke it off and joined a convent of Carmelite nuns in Newport, R.I. The Carmelites were not strict enough for her; she left the convent and went to Rome, where a priest advised her to try the Camaldolese. In 1945 her abbess gave Sister Nazarena permission to attempt reclusion.

 

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