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By William Mahoney, Ph.D.
Sister Cristina Scuccia, the Ursuline nun who became a secular singing sensation in 2014, will participate in a new edition of Italy's Dancing with the Stars on March 30.
Milly Carlucci, host of the show, requested permission from Sr. Cristina's superior, Sr. Giovanna Fiorile, who, after a time of prayer and discernment, granted approval.
Explaining her motivation, Carlucci told Famiglia Cristiana that Sr. Cristiana "is a living testimony of how faith can open the heart to the world and give strength, energy, a capacity to embrace others as unique and unrepeatable."
She said that everybody at Dancing with the Stars wanted Sr. Cristina on the show this year because "Sister Cristina is a ray of light that will bring a wonderful message."
The religious sister says that her own motivation for accepting the invitation was based on the Gospel.
"The Gospel itself warns us: 'Woe when everyone speaks well of you,' while Saint Paul writes that we have been given a spirit of strength, not of fear," she said. "Thus, it is OK to take a chance. The faith should not be ghettoized."
"If through my participation even one soul can be touched, then it will have been worth it," she added.
As the producers of the show prefer to maintain an air of suspense, Sr. Cristina's dancing partner is currently unknown, but the nun does not think she will be partnered with a man, as happens to the fictitious Sr. Constanza who appears on Dancing with the Stars in the Italian TV show Che Dio ci auiti (May God Help Us).
Not everybody agrees with Sr. Cristina. A commenter named Francesca writes, "I have never read about Jesus Christ singing, dancing or entertaining His Apostles with wisecracks and jokes," while another commenter named Richard writes, "No, Sister Cristina. The message of Christ should not be mixed with so much worldliness."
Church Militant reached out to Sr. Cristina for comment on her upcoming participation in Dancing with the Stars as well as her response to detractors such as Francesca. She has not responded.
Sister Cristiana appeared on the world stage in 2014 when she won The Voice of Italy, a victory that led to a record deal with Universal Music Italia.
Since then, she has released two albums: one in 2014 ("Sister Cristina") and another in 2018 ("Felice"). She also has her own webpage and official pages on the main social media platforms.
In addition to the albums, Sr. Cristina has made two music videos: a modified cover of Madonna's "Like a Virgin," which has over 6 million views, and "Felice" ("Happy"), which has less than 500,000 views.
Sister Cristina explained why she chose to cover "Like a Virgin": "Reading the text, without being influenced by previous interpretations, you discover that it is a song about the power of love to renew people. To rescue them from their past. And this is the way that I wanted to interpret it."
Madonna learned of Sr. Cristina's version of "Like a Virgin" and responded with two Instagram posts that juxtapose images of herself next to ones of Sr. Cristina, with the captions "Like A Virgin? #bitinghard" and "Sisters for Life! #touchedfortheveryfirsttime."
In February, Sr. Cristina came to the United States to compete as "The Singing Nun" in another reality competition called The World's Best, which the CBS website describes as "a first-of-its-kind global talent competition that features acts from every genre imaginable, from every corner of the planet."
For the competition, she sang a modified version of Lady Gaga's "Born This Way."
In an interview with Patheos, Sr. Cristina said that she chose "Born This Way" because the song "deals with the theme of diversity, and, in my opinion, it is important to remind everyone that despite being different, we are as precious as we are, because God does not make mistakes with anyone, exactly as the song says."
Sister Cristina then talked about her admiration for Lady Gaga.
"Lady Gaga is one of my favorite artists, and what strikes me, and I mostly like about her, in addition to her extraordinary artistic skills, is the courage with which she shows her great humanity," she said.
When asked how she balances her Ursuline life with her life in show business, Sr. Cristina responded, "It is my belief that all I do is prayer and has a missionary nature so that there are no contradictions between my being consecrated and the living of an experience in the world of entertainment."
Pope Francis and Sr. Cristina have met three times. The first time they met, Sr. Cristina gave the Pope a copy of her debut album.
In a 2018 interview, Antonio Sanfrancesco asked Sister Cristina, "Is Pope Francis happy?"
I have met him three times. In 2014 to give him the debut album and then last December  he welcomed artists from the Christmas Concert. The bishop alongside him said, "This is the sister who sings." He recognized me immediately and responded: "Go forward, go forward like this, sister."
The 30-year-old consecrated religious will be going forward in the world of entertainment this Saturday on Dancing with the Stars.