Sister Marjana Lleshi: Touching Story Of The Nun Who Survived Italy’s Earthquake

Sister Marjana Lleshi: Touching Story Of The Nun Who Survived Italy’s Earthquake

Wounded and trapped under her bed as her convent in Amatrice crumbled to the ground around her, Sr. Lleshi thought for sure that death was imminent, and began sending messages to loved ones telling them goodbye.

Sister Marjana Lleshi

For Sister Marjana Lleshi, a religious sister of the Handmaids of the Lord, memories of the 6.2 magnitude earthquake which struck in the early hours of Wednesday killing 300 people and leaving many more missing will forever remain in her memory.

Sister Lleshi had woken up about 30 minutes after the initial shock from the earthquake around 3:30 a.m., and saw rubble falling around her as she came to her senses.

“I had a cut on my head and I asked for help. I looked toward the street, where people were lost and confused,” she said, but “no one responded to me.”

As the building continued to crumble, Sr. Lleshi said she had just enough time to grab a sweater and her veil before taking refuge under her bed, where she decided to stay until help arrived.

“It was at that point that I resigned myself,” she said. “I asked for help in vain. So I began to send messages to loved ones warning that there was an earthquake, that there was no longer hope, that I would die and that it was farewell.”

Though she tried to hold on to her will to live, the nun said she lost hope when no one came, and began to think about those dear to her and the choices she had made in life.

“I retraced my life and saw that the choice to offer it for others was the only one I wanted to make,” she said, noting that “it was precisely in that moment that I heard the voice of the young man calling me, and in that voice I heard the voice of God, who was calling me to life.”

There were 15 people in total staying at the convent at the time of the quake, including the elderly the sisters attended. Of them, four elderly and three sisters have died – their bodies remain buried in the rubble.

Sr. Lleshi said that when Louis finally came to look for survivors, he picked her up and began leading her to safety when they heard the cries of two other sisters.

“Among the rubble I heard one of our sisters asking for help. While we tried to understand where the voice was coming from, we heard another sister complaining because she couldn’t breathe and her legs were blocked,” she said.

In the end the Sr. Lleshi and Louis couldn’t move the rubble in order to rescue the other sisters, so they waited beside them until the rescue workers arrived.

The two sisters were sent to the hospital in neighboring Rieti, where they are currently recovering. Sr. Lleshi, however, is currently staying in Ascoli Piceno, where she was treated and kept under medical supervision.

Referring to Louis, Sr. Lleshi said he was “the angel that God sent when I thought I would die and when everything around me was crumbling. It was leveled to the ground and I was like the tip of an inverted cone in the midst of the rubble of crumbs.”

The nun said she doesn’t know why God spared her, only that “I saw a God who, in the midst of death, gave life.”

“Thinking of the sisters who are still under the rubble, I have to say that I am no holier than them. So I ask myself, why was I saved and not them?” she said, tearing up.

She noted that “many families are destroyed” and that many people, including Louis, have risked their lives trying save people who could still be alive.

When asked if hope can be found in “angels” like Louis and the rescue workers, Sr. Lleshi said religion doesn’t have anything to do with it, because “we men were made to love and to help others.”

Tragedies such as the earthquake, she said, “reveal what man is regardless of his religion, of his culture, of the goodness of the person itself. Take me. I am no better than the people who didn’t make it. I was saved. Why?”

“Asking me now is useless,” she said, “because I will never have an answer. But sooner or later I will understand, God willing, what he wants of me.”

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