Back in 2015, Katy Perry and the Catholic Church made headlines when she purchased the Order of the Most Holy and Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary's convent in the hills of Los Angeles from the L.A. archdiocese for $14.5 million.
The problem? The nuns who'd long lived there had already sold the 30,000-square-foot sanctuary located on eight acres in the Los Angeles hills to businesswoman Dana Hollister, a restauranteur, the previous year. The archdiocese insisted the sisters didn't have the right to make a sale though the nuns argued otherwise, a judge sided with the church an invalidated the sale in 2016.
The wild drama and the ensuing court battles have been brutal for all sides. But now, the only surviving nun from the holy order, Sister Rita Callanan, is speaking out about a devastating year she says has broken her body and her spirit.
"I really didn't like Katy Perry. I'm sure she doesn't like me," Sister Rita, 81, told the New York Post, adding that she feels the pop star and "American Idol" judge now has "blood on her hands" following the death of Rita's best friend, Sister Catherine Rose Holzman. The nun, 89, died at an L.A. courthouse last year as the Catholic nuns took on Katy's lawyers in another round.
The Post reports that Sister Catherine Rose's last words were "Katy Perry. Please stop."
Sister Rita has readily admitted that the nuns didn't want Katy to buy the property they'd lived in until 2011 when the archdiocese reportedly kicked them out. "We asked Dana to buy our property as we didn't want it to go to Katy Perry. Yes, we put the wheels in motion to sell our property. Was it legal? Probably not entirely. But it wasn't legal for Katy Perry to buy [it] either," Sister Rita told the Post.
She's vowed to keep fighting for what she believes is right. "I intend to fight," she said. "But how long I can do that, I don't know."
According to the Post, the convent is once again on the market, though the price has gone up to $25 million. The L.A. archdiocese told the Post that "While the formal legal option on the property has expired, the Archdiocese and Ms. Perry continue to be in communication concerning her continued interest in the property."
Despite her harsh words for Katy, Sister Rita has far more to say about the behavior of the Catholic Church and its priests and staffers amid the fight. For one, she claims the priest who oversaw her best friend's funeral service in 2018 was not the father who had been requested and he refused to let Rita speak during the funeral even though Sister Catherine Rose's family wanted her to.
Before closing prayers, "I said, 'Excuse me, Father, but I've been asked to say a few words.' I started to talk… then he said, 'OK, that's enough,' but I kept on. He then said, 'I said, that's enough,'" Sister Rita told the Post. "I was quiet for a minute, then thought, 'No, I'm going to go on, Sister Rose wanted this.' But another priest got up and went to the organ player and told him to start playing so he would drown out my words… The congregation yelled out, 'Let her speak!'"
Sister Rita also claimed that archdiocese staffers accessed Sister Catherine Rose's apartment at her religious retirement home where, she believes, they found and took her hard drive and correspondence with the Vatican concerning the convent sale debacle. (The archdiocese's rep told the Post that they "coordinated directly with [the late nun's family] on all decisions.") Rita said she refused to give the archdiocese her laptop and instead gave it to a friend to hide.
She also alleges that the church, which controls her personal bank account, hasn't given her money she's owed on time, which has been a burden. The church denied this.
These days, Sister Rita — who recently had an emergency spine operation — is living in a physical rehab facility where she's undergoing treatment to help her body recover.