A gang of thieves broke into and robbed a convent. It was located at Castel Gandolfo, Pope Francis’s summer retreat. They bullied the mother superior and took her hostage. It happened during the first hours of Christmas Day.
Shortly after midnight of Christmas Eve, three bandits used a crowbar to strong-arm their way through a window at the Pope Pius XII Institute at the facility south of Rome, according to The Daily Telegraph.
They immediately set to work ransacking the mother superior’s office in search of valuables. They raised such a ruckus that they roused the nuns in their rooms on the second floor. The Telegraph reported:
When the mother superior appeared in her office to investigate, the men grabbed her and walked her to her bedroom where she was forced to hand over 5,000 euros [$6,100 U.S.] from the convent’s cash box.
The men then grabbed her mobile phone and locked her in her bedroom before escaping through holes cut in the fence at the back of the convent’s grounds. Outside, an accomplice was waiting with a getaway car.
Italian police are now searching for the three men, who were unmasked and described as being between 30 and 40 years old and speaking with south Italian accents. They’re also going over closed-circuit security footage and dusting the premises for prints.
The nuns were described as being in “a state of shock” according to the Italian newspaper Il Messaggero, especially given that the facility also houses a junior school. According to The Mail:
Castel Gandolfo and the nearby volcanic lake of Marino is a fashionable residence for well-off Romans to escape the summer heat of Rome. Pope Francis recently opened the papal palace and its gardens to the public for the first time.
The residents of this normally safe, well-to-do community were as shocked as the nuns.
“Locals in Castel Gandolfo expressed their outrage that anyone would rob nuns at Christmas,” The Mail reported. No kidding.