Pope shuts down 'partying' monastery

2011-05-24 22:45

Rome - Pope Benedict XVI has shut down a famous community in Rome that organised dances by a former nightclub dancer nun and hosted VIPs like Madonna, earning the disfavour of the Vatican.

The closure of the monastery of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, which holds some of the Church's most prized relics, was reported by Italian dailies La Stampa and Il Foglio.

The reports said the community of Cistercian monks based at the church for more than five centuries was being transferred to other churches in Italy.

Contacted by AFP, the Vatican did not deny the reports.

The basilica had become a hub for the "Friends of Santa Croce", an aristocratic group, and had been criticised for some unorthodox practices including dances in which nuns pranced around the altar.

One of the nuns who performed at the church, a former disco dancer, can be seen in a YouTube video performing a modern dance with a crucifix.

The basilica's longtime abbot, Simone Fioraso, a flamboyant former Milan fashion designer, was already moved out of the basilica two years ago.

The ban was adopted in March by the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life following an inquiry but has not yet been made public, the reports said.

Pope Benedict, the leader of the world's 1.1 billion Catholics, is also the bishop of Rome, so the basilica is part of his diocese.

Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, built around a chapel dating to the fourth century, is one of Rome's oldest and most prestigious churches.

Read more on:    pope benedict xvi  |  madonna  |  italy
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