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The story behind the nun who became the face of Italy’s earthquake

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Her image became iconic, and now the Associated Press tells her story: 

She became the face of Italy’s earthquake: Sister Marjana Lleshi, blood staining her veil as she texted her family and friends in her native Albania that she was alive.

In an interview Thursday at the mother house of her religious order, the 35-year-old nun recounted how she thought she would die when her convent walls collapsed. She texted her friends asking that they pray for her soul, only to be rescued by a man she has called her “angel.”

Now safe, Lleshi says she wants nothing more than to go to next week’s Rome canonization of Mother Teresa, the ethnic Albanian nun “who gave hope to those who didn’t have any.”

Lleshi was sleeping in the Don Minozzi convent beside the Church of the Most Holy Crucifix in Amatrice when the quake struck at 3:36 a.m. Wednesday. She had been there, with six other sisters, caring for five elderly women. Her order, the Sisters of the Handmaidens of the Lord, runs nurseries and homes for the aged.

She woke up covered in dust and bleeding. Realizing what had happened, she immediately tried to summon help outside her room.

No one responded. And she couldn’t get out.

“When I started losing all hope of being saved, I resigned myself to it and started sending messages to friends saying to pray for me and to pray for my soul and I said goodbye to them forever,” she said outside the order’s headquarters in Ascoli Piceno.

Read it all. 

Photo: Massimo Percossi/ANSA via AP

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