Touching Without Contact

Liu_04By Anna K. Kiser, RN, BSN

What you do touches me, what I do touches you…Sister Anna extends her fingers, reaching out beyond the iron grate, her eyes creating a connection as strong as her touch.  Sister Anna Lucciarini, a cloistered nun, resides behind the iron curtains of Cagli’s St. Nicolo Domenicane Monastero.  The convent, founded in 1529, is quoted to have housed “many blessed souls” and young girls from noble families including Sister Nicoline, niece of Pope Pius IX.  This has been Sister Anna’s home for 9 years.

The number of women entering the spiritual world is diminishing.  Only four sisters, ages 38 to 82, reside here at St. Nicolo.  Sister Anna, the youngest, listened to the vibration of a tower bell as it sang an epiphany to her at the age of twenty four.  She reminiscences about the occasion of visiting the cloistered nuns of St. Clair in Assisi with a contagious giggle and light in her eyes.  Once employed as a certified public accountant, Sister Anna vows now to obedience, chastity, poverty and a life behind the convent walls.

Sister Anna rises with the sunshine, dresses in her white robe and black veil by six.  A daily ritual includes attending mass, praying the rosary and singing psalms.  All of these she performs before breakfast at eight thirty.  Sister Anna prays specifically for the church, families, youth, politicians, the continuation of beautiful art work by artists and the poor.  On special occasions, she prays for the deceased.

During the late morning hours, she and her sisters perform a service function.  Sister Anna proudly claims caring for the church, preparing the clothing of the priest, decorating the altar and cleaning the sanctuary as her very own territory; not one she admittedly likes to share.  The others embroider, knit and bead rosaries.

At twelve twenty she prays the rosary and psalms before going to lunch.  Sister Anna glows, exuding a reverent sincerity as she tells about the beautiful terraces inside the convent.  She and her sisters enjoy the beauty of God’s creation during the three hours of profound silence that follow the mid afternoon meal.

It is “the deepest silence ever” she says, as if silence was something to be felt…not heard.

Following this period of solitude, she repeats the rosary, the psalms and prays in front of the host.

“The Lord always provides, “ she warmly proclaims.

By four o’clock, Sister Anna once again performs her service functions and may even bake bread during this time.  There is a solid hour of meditation before she prepares for dinner at seven thirty.  Afterwards, she converses briefly with her sisters before caroling the nightly psalm to complete the day at nine.

The bells echo the rhythm of her life to the city of Cagli.  Their glorious songs proclaim her presence behind the ornate grates.

Sister Anna is a spouse of Christ.  She wears a golden Crucifix ring as a symbol of her marriage to the Son of God.

Her journey began as a guest in the convent for one month where she “walked the walk” with the sisters.  After this period of time, she was given as much time as she needed to contemplate her decision.

Sister Anna grins, smiles, then laughs as she states it took her five years to make the decision.  Sister Anna offers her ring with a confident, reminiscing smile lighting up her expressive eyes.  They seem to be seeing places that are far above; a glimpse of something beyond human eyes.  Her spirit escapes the convent walls.

Sister Anna’s fingers stretch through the grate for contact as she says, “Let us stay united in prayer.”

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