The three men who broke into the convent at the papal retreat south of Rome probably weren't looking for Christmas gifts.
Italian police are hunting for a gang of robbers who reportedly broke into a convent in Castel Gandolfo, the pope's summer estate, on Christmas Day, and took the mother superior hostage.
According to the Telegraph, the men forced a window at the Pius XII Institute in the Alban hills south of Rome just after midnight and ransacked the mother superior’s office on the first floor.
Police said the nuns – who were sleeping or praying in the bedrooms on the second floor – became aware of the intruders because of the noise they were making.
When the mother superior, who was not named by the police spokesman, went to investigate, the men grabbed her and forced her to hand over about $6,000 from the convent’s cash box.
Police said the men, who wore no masks, also took her cellphone and then locked her in a bedroom before escaping through holes cut in the fence in the convent’s backyard. An accomplice was waiting in a getaway car.
According to Il Messaggero, a local newspaper, the nuns at the estate were in “a state of shock.”
Italian police are checking the convent’s closed-circuit security footage and dusting for fingerprints. The men are believed to be between 30 to 40 years old.
The convent also houses a junior school. The papal retreat is located in a fashionable residential area where upper-middle-class Romans escape the summer heat. Pope Francis recently decided to open the papal residence and its gardens to the public for the first time.