· Vatican City ·

In this issue on Consecrated Life we discuss the term burnout. This word, in its literal meaning, involves exhaustion, collapse, stress, wear, and is a syndrome that also affects nuns. In fact, the extent of this issue is so vast that the the International Union of [Female] Superiors General (IUSG), has organized a workshop in Rome to discuss it, and, in collaboration with the Union of [Male] Superiors General, has decided to establish a Commission for personal care over the next three years. The number of nuns is falling every year, but remain the majority within religious life, though with different evolutionary dynamics in the various continents.

The decline in vocations, convents closing, sexual and power abuses, the management of goods, the heaviness of structures sometimes organized as centuries ago, are the themes of the interview with Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

This issue is a journey into the universe of consecrated life, which on 2 February 2020 celebrates the 24th World Day for Consecrated Life, established in 1997 by John Paul II. The numerous and different testimonies reported here are of women - those religious, but of a plural Church - who, in the words of Pope Francis, do not play at “watering down God”.


In Paris, we hear from Anne Lécu, a Dominican nun, a doctor, who works in the Fleury-Mérogis maximum security prison, the largest in Europe. In Rome, in the Santi Quattro Coronati Augustinian cloistered monastery, we hear from Mother Prioress Fulvia Sieni and sister Ilaria. In the monastery of Żarnowiec, in Poland, sister Małgorzata Borkowska, a Benedictine, speaks to us about her fifty years of religious life, and the writing of Balaam’s Ass (as yet not translated into Italian), “an appeal to the lords of the clergy”.

This article is followed by the female religious communicator, Memores Domini, consecrated to the Ordo Virginum. From this consecrated woman comes the invitation to speak with a new language to young people about sexuality, gender, and the meaning of the body.

From reality, to its representation. An interview with Elena Sofia Ricci, an Italian actress who has popularized a nun in a television series, and a commentary by director Liliana Cavani who has directed three films over the years on St. Francis, and a documentary Clarisse [Clarisses], starring ten nuns and three novices from the Monastery of Santa Chiara in Urbino.