Nun gives birth after going to hospital with ‘stomach cramps’

Sister Roxana intends to keep baby boy, calling him Francesco after the pope

Sister Roxana, who looked after old people in the order’s Rieti house, has been in Italy since leaving El Salvador some 12 years ago.

Sister Roxana, who looked after old people in the order’s Rieti house, has been in Italy since leaving El Salvador some 12 years ago.

Tue, Jan 21, 2014, 00:06

When 32-year-old sister Roxana Rodriguez left her convent in Rieti, north of Rome, last week complaining of stomach cramps, neither she nor the other sisters seemed to be aware of what was happening.

When she arrived at Rieti hospital, the surprised staff were quick to reassure her. There is nothing wrong, they said, you are just about to give birth to a baby.

And so, Salvadorean Sister Roxana gave birth to a healthy baby boy, called Francesco after Pope Francis. When doctors first told her that she was heavily pregnant, she is alleged to have exclaimed: “But I cannot be giving birth to a baby, I am a nun . . .”

Doubtless, her superiors were expressing similar sentiments. Sister Roxana is a member of the order of the Little Disciples of Christ The Eucharist, a small Italian order founded in 1923 with approximately 400 nuns, as well as more than 60 houses mainly in Italy, but also in Latin America, Africa and Asia.

Roxana, who looked after old people in the order’s Rieti house, has been in Italy since leaving El Salvador some 12 years ago.

As of now, Roxana’s future is not clear. One thing seems clear, however, and that is that she intends to keep the baby and bring it up herself. Social worker Anna Fontanella says that Roxana “now considers herself more a mother than a nun”.

What is less clear is the identity of the father. The Little Disciples order has pointed out that she was on holiday back home in her native El Salvador last March and April when the baby would have been conceived.

In the meantime, she will obviously be looking for new quarters. For the time being, the mayor of Rieti, Simone Petrangeli, has offered her and her baby some form of public housing in Rieti.

Even the local Bishop of Rieti, Monsignor Delio Lucarelli, has greeted the new arrival sympathetically, inviting “the faithful and citizens” to look on the “positive side” of the event notwithstanding the fact that she is someone “who has reneged on her vow of chastity”.

Pope Francis has thus far said nothing about the case but it is worth recalling that at a meeting in the Vatican with 120 heads of religious orders last November, he warned against the dangers of recruitment in developing world countries.

In effect, the Pope suggested that such “vocations” into a European based order may be linked to a desire to escape dire poverty.