On New Year’s Eve, Pope Francis called a community of Carmelite sisters in Lucena, Spain to wish them a happy new year, and when they didn’t answer, he left a message saying that he would call back.
"What are the nuns doing that they can't answer?" the Pope jested in his Dec. 31 message to the nuns, "I am Pope Francis, I wish to greet you in this end of the year, I will see if I can call you later. May God bless you!"
According to CNN, the community gave the audio of Pope Francis’ message to COPE, a Spanish radio network that is partially owned by Spain’s Episcopal Conference, because they wanted to share his words “with the world.”
Upon receiving the Pope’s message, the nuns, who had been praying when the Pontiff called a few minutes before noon, “didn’t know what to do.”
Sister Adriana, prioress of the convent, told COPE that she "literally wanted to die" after first hearing the message, explaining that “our friendship goes back 15 years but we never thought the Pope would remember to think of us."
After consulting with their local bishop, Emilio Z. Marquez, the community attempted to return the Pope’s call, but was unsuccessful and decided just to wait, hoping for another call.
Within a few hours the phone rang again, and the Nuns were sure to answer, COPE reported.
The community of five, three of whom are from the Pope’s native country of Argentina, were able to speak with the Pontiff for a few minutes on speakerphone.
Pope Francis’ message “was to never lose hope, because sadness leads to spiritual sloth and hopelessness," Sister Adriana revealed, adding that she has known the Pope for years, and admires his simplicity and closeness to people.
In addition to the celebration of New Year’s Eve, the Pope’s call also coincided with the community’s 400th anniversary.
This message has been the latest in a series of personal calls that Pope Francis has made to various individuals since his election, including a call to cancel his newspaper subscription after he was elected Bishop of Rome, and to a young mother offering to baptize her unborn child in September.