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The Lord’s song?

Back in the summer a member of the Ursuline community became an Internet star after winning the Italian version of the TV singing competition The Voice. Sister Cristina Scuccia surprised judges with a rendition of Alicia Keys' 'No One' and also covered Bon Jovi's 'Livin' on a Prayer.'

After winning the prize Scuccia recited the Lord's Prayer and invited the studio audience and judges to join in, saying 'I want Jesus to enter here'. She performed in a habit, wearing a crucifix around her neck and said 'I came here because I have a gift and I want to share that gift. I am here to evangelize'.

Many winners of TV talent shows fade into obscurity shortly afterwards but Sister Cristina has built on her fame with another surprising recording - of Madonna's 'Like a Virgin'.

'The choice of song came when I had the text in my hands and I analyzed it without considering what had happened in the past with this song. It's a bit of an allegory of God's call,' the 27-year-old told an Italian newspaper.

'Reading the text, without being influenced by previous interpretations, you discover that it is a song about the power of love to renew people [and] rescue them from their past,' she said.

The recording has been criticised, however, as a 'reckless and calculated commercial operation' in an editorial by the Religious Information Service, which is connected to the Italian Bishops' Conference.

'The public is always intrigued by the devil versus holy water theme, but not even the American nuns in Sister Act would have thought of something like this,' the editorial said. Sister Cristina's claim that the song was a 'secular prayer', was described as 'blessedly naive'.

There was also criticism from Famiglia Cristiana, an influential Catholic magazine, which said the nun's performance for her debut album verged on 'prima donna behaviour'.

'I chose [the song] without any desire to provoke or cause a scandal,' responded Scuccia. 'By reading the text, without letting yourself be influenced by previous [interpretations], you discover that it is a song about the ability of love to renew people, to redeem them from their past.'

An album, called Sister Cristina, is to be released this month. Profits will be donated to Catholic charities. Scuccia noted, however, that there are no concerts planned, and her future is 'in the hands of God.'