Nazarena of Jesus
She was born Julia Crotta on October 15, 1907, in Glastonbury, Connecticut, the United States, to Italian immigrant parents. She studied at the Hartford Conservatory, then piano, violin (with Hugo Kortschak) and composition (with David Stanley Smith and Richard Donovan) at the Yale School of Music. She matriculated from Albertus Magnus College.
To discern a possible monastic vocation, Crotta joined the Carmel of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, in Newport, Rhode Island, living there for about three months before she left, seeking a more solitary way of life. Traveling to Rome, she joined the Camaldolese nuns of the Monastery of Sant'Antonio Abate, where she remained for only a short time. Still in Rome, she then entered the Carmel of the Reparation in the fall of 1938, where she pronounced simple vows as a Discalced Carmelite nun. In 1944, just before her solemn vows, however, she left Carmel.
Following a private audience with Venerable Pope Pius XII, Crotta again entered the Camaldolese monastery in Rome on November 21, 1945, being allowed to live immediately as a recluse. This is a practice long unique to that Order, but normally only after a number of years of living in the community. She then took the name, Nazarena of Jesus.
Nazarena was to remain in a secluded cell in that monastery, leading a strict ascetic regime, for the rest of her life, hearing Mass through a grille, and receiving her food and messages from the Mother Superior and the other nuns through a slot in the door to her cell. She spoke to no one directly, except once a year, when she spoke to the priest who served as her spiritual director. Those meetings could last an entire day, during which she would talk for hours.
As a Camaldolese nun, Nazarena pronounced her simple vows on December 15, 1947, and professed her solemn vows on May 31, 1953. Venerable Pope Paul VI visited the monastery on Ash Wednesday of 1966 (February 23 that year), and blessed Nazarena through her grille, while she wore a black veil covering her face.
She died there February 7, 1990, aged 82.
On November 21, 2013, during a visit to the Camaldolese monastery, Pope Francis visited Sister Nazarena's cell.