POPE Francis urged a gathering of hundreds of nuns in the Vatican not to be "spinsters" or "old maids" but to act like "mothers" to the faithful.
The Argentinian Pope said that despite their vows of chastity, nuns in the Roman Catholic Church still had a maternal role to play.
"The ordained woman is a mother, she must be a mother and not an old maid. You are mothers, like the figures of Mary and the Mother Church," he told 800 nuns, who represented women's religious orders from more than 70 countries.
He spoke in Italian, using the word "zitella", which means old maid or spinster.
"Forgive me if I talk like this but this maternity of consecrated life, this fruitfulness is important.
Be mothers, like the images of the Mother Mary and the Mother Church ... you are icons of Mary and of the church." (© Daily, Telegraph London)