Pope Francis greets Benedictine nuns moving into Vatican monastery

Pope Francis greets a community of Benedictine nuns from Argentina before Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican Jan. 6, 2024. The nuns recently moved into the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican Gardens with a ministry of full-time prayer for the pope and the church. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Before Mass on the feast of the Epiphany, Pope Francis welcomed a small community of Benedictine nuns from Argentina who had just moved into the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican Gardens.

The sisters’ arrival Jan. 3 renewed the building’s purpose as home to a cloistered community of women dedicated to supporting the pope’s ministry with their prayer. Pope Francis greeted them at his Mass Jan. 6 in St. Peter’s Basilica.

St. John Paul II had established the monastery in 1994 and said members of different contemplative orders would live there for a period of three to five years.

The last community, a group of Visitation nuns, left in November 2012, and Pope Benedict XVI moved into the monastery after his resignation in 2013. The retired pontiff and his staff lived there until Pope Benedict died Dec. 31, 2022.

In October Pope Francis decided that “the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery would return to its original purpose: that contemplative orders support the Holy Father in his daily care for the whole church, through the ministry of prayer, adoration, praise and reparation, thus being a prayerful presence in silence and solitude,” the Vatican press office said.

Pope Francis invited the Benedictine nuns of the Abbey of St. Scholastica in Victoria, Argentina, to staff the monastery and they accepted, the press office said.

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