Nun's take on Alicia Keys song a huge hit
A TRUE if unlikely tale: Young woman enrols at a drama school sponsored by nuns, where the artistic director is a former Italian erotic film actress who redirected her career after a religious awakening.
The students are selected to perform before the pope at St Peter's Square but, during rehearsals, the young woman fractures an ankle.
Unable to perform, the woman, Cristina Scuccia, acts on a persistent spiritual tug and commits to becoming a nun. She travels to Brazil to work with poor children and then returns to Italy to live quietly in a convent in Milan.
But she is still a talented singer, so talented that she wins a Christian singing competition, and then auditions on March 19 for Italy's version of the television show The Voice.
There, dressed in a full habit, with the crowd on its feet and a tattooed rap-star judge fighting back tears, she belts out a hip-shaking rendition of Alicia Keys' No One that brings down the house and quickly goes viral on the Internet, topping 47 million views on YouTube.
Gossip magazines have splashed her on their covers in her habit and featured her in articles.
"It's a very good piece of content," said a smiling Marco Tombolini, a producer of the programme, which has seen its ratings jump sharply. "It just is."
"Content" is the digital-age term for what was once called a story, and, in Italy, few stories match that of Sister Cristina, who is now 25. Both Keys and Whoopi Goldberg - the star of Sister Act, the 1992 comedy hit about singing nuns - have offered praise on Twitter.
Sister Cristina has since won a "battle round" by outduelling another contestant during a duet of Cyndi Lauper's 1980s hit Girls Just Want To Have Fun and, more recently, sang Hero by Mariah Carey.
"My dream was to be a singer," she told Ansa, the state news agency. "The Lord has made use of my wish to call me to Him, and is taking me to realise my dream in a way that I never could have imagined."