Nun to emerge from convent after 84 years to meet pope

16th August 2011, Comments 0 comments

At 103 years old, Sister Teresita is ready to have the experience of a lifetime. After spending the last 84 years in a convent, she will emerge on Friday to meet Pope Benedict XVI in Madrid.

Sister Teresita lives at the Buenafuente del Sistal convent, about 100 kilometres (60 miles) northeast of Madrid, which she entered at the age of 19, on April 16, 1927, by a strange coincidence the day when Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict, was born in Germany.

She has only ever left the compound during the 1936-39 Spanish Civil War, for a few hours at time to escape the fighting.

But she will interrupt her isolation briefly to meet the pope, who is to meet with nuns in Madrid on the occasion of the World Youth Day festival.

"She said she thinks she will make the trip with her eyes closed, so that nothing will distract her," said the convent's mother superior, Maria.

Sister Teresita has been a minor celebrity since she was featured in a book, "What is a girl like you doing in a place like that", the author of which, Jesus Garcia, recounted the lives of 10 nuns in the convent.

"Who can spend 84 years in a convent without being happy? Of course I'm happy," she was quoted as saying in the book.

She said that her father, a farm worker, encouraged her and her sister to become nuns, perhaps as a way to escape extreme poverty.

"My father, seeing that the life that we were leading in the country and thinking that nuns did not work, asked my sister and myself if we would like to become nuns," she said.

When she entered the convent, she only had a vague idea of what life would be like. But over the years, she has found happiness.

"You feel happiness when you follow your vocation," she said.

© 2011 AFP

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