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Priest to hold nun beauty pageant

Nuns at Rome's Gregoriana University in November 2006
Internet users will be able to choose their favourite nun from photographs

An Italian priest says he is organising the world's first beauty pageant for nuns to erase a stereotype of them as being old and dour.

Antonio Rungi says The Miss Sister Italy online contest will start on his blog in September.

"Nuns are - above all - women, and beauty is a gift from God," he told Italy's Corriere della Sera newspaper.

He is asking nuns to send their photos to him, saying that internet users will then choose the winner.

Father Rungi stressed that nuns were not being invited to parade in bathing suits, saying it will be up to them whether they pose with the traditional veil or with their heads uncovered.

"This contest will be a way to show there isn't just the beauty we see on television but also a more discreet charm," the priest, who lives near the southern city of Naples, told the Corriere della Sera.

"You really think all nuns are old, stunted and sad? This isn't the case anymore," he said, pointing out that many young nuns had arrived to Italy from around the world.

He added that the idea of staging such a contest had been suggested by nuns themselves.




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