Pope Francis's voicemail: 'I wanted to say Happy New Year. I'll call back'
Pope Francis hoped to surprise a group of nuns in a Spanish convent by telephoning them to wish them Happy New Year. But he found himself talking to their answering machine, instead.
"What are the nuns doing that they can't answer the phone?" Francis asked in the message he left, the recording of which was obtained by Spain's El Mundo newspaper and broadcast on Italian media on Saturday.
"This is Pope Francis. I wanted to offer you greetings for the end of the year. Maybe I'll try to call again later. May God bless you," he said.
The Pope has made a habit out of calling people out of the blue, often telephoning people who have written him about their hardships.
The prioress of the convent, Sister Adriana, told COPE radio station she and the four other nuns were not listening for the phone because they were busy at their midday prayers.
She said the Pope was an old friend of some of the nuns in their group, who, like him, come from Argentina.
They now run the convent in a working class suburb of Lucena, a town near Cordoba in southern Spain.
"When my duties allowed me to go to the phone, I literally wanted to die" on hearing the missed message, Sister Adriana said.
"I took down the message and passed it on to the other nuns. We told ourselves we had just been fulfilling our duty of prayer. We never thought the Pope would remember us."
She frantically called a bishop and other contacts to try and return the call to the Vatican, without success, but Pope Francis called back and managed to talk to the nuns in the evening.