ROME, Italy — When 27-year-old Sister Cristina Scuccia won Italy’s “The Voice” singing competition last summer after rocking such cover songs as Alicia Key’s "The One," Cyndi Lauper’s "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun," and Bon Jovi’s "Like A Prayer" during the lengthy competition, she recited the Lord’s Prayer and she hinted she would refuse the Universal record deal that came with the trophy. Obviously, Sister Cristina had a change of heart—or a leap of faith.
On Monday, the Sicilian sister teased the first single from her new album to be released next month. Appropriately, perhaps, it's a cover of Madonna’s 1984 hit "Like a Virgin" with slightly modified lyrics. Like the original, Sister Cristina shot her music video on the canals in Venice. But unlike the seductive singer in the original video, she does not writhe on a gondola in tight Lycra leggings or have pseudo sex with a man in a lion mask.
Instead, clad in her dark religious habit and nun's shoes, she extends her arms to the heavens on the checkerboard-tiled rooftop of a Venetian palazzo, casting angelic shadows. The nun’s video, which is shot in black and white, captures a few decadent views of Venice, but, no, there are no live lions panting at the sight of her, nor white mini-skirted wedding dresses riding up on her legs, as in the Madonna video of 30 years ago.
Sister Cristina's lyrics also omit such lines as, “Feels so good inside, when you hold me, and your heart beats, and you love me.” She does repeat the phrase “Like a virgin, touched for the very first time” many times, implying, of course, that it is her spirit being touched, not her earthly body.
In an exclusive interview with the Catholic publication Avveniere, Sister Cristina of the Ursuline Sisters of the Holy Family says she decided on her own to sing "Like a Virgin":
“I chose it. With no intention to provoke or scandalize. Reading the text, without being influenced by previous interpretations, you discover that it is a song about the power of love to renew people,” she said. “To rescue them from their past. And this is the way that I wanted to interpret it. For this reason we have transformed this song from the pop-dance piece which it was, into a romantic ballad, a bit like the ones by Amos Lee. Something more similar to a lay prayer, than to a pop piece.”
Sister Cristina, who took her vows to the Church in 2010 after an admittedly tumultuous adolescence in which she fronted a rock band, also admitted that the pressure of celebrity has been, as it were, a cross to bear. She said she often regretted entering the contest. “I feel the almost morbid curiosity of the media as a weight on my back,” she said. She also said that proceeds from the album will go to her order’s projects. “I made a vow of poverty,” she said. “We will use all the money earned in the congregation’s projects.”
The album, which debuts November 11, also includes cover songs by other popular artists from the 1980s, “True Colors,” by Cindy Lauper, and “Ordinary World,” by Duran Duran, as well as “Fix You,” by Coldplay.