Pope 'shuts down irregular monastery in Rome'

image captionSister Nobili, based at the monastery, became famous for performing her modern Holy Dance

Pope Benedict XVI has shut down a famous monastery in Rome, Italian media reports say.

The Santa Croce in Gerusalemme church is being closed because of rumours of a lack of liturgical, financial and moral discipline, La Stampa reports.

It is understood the few remaining Cistercian monks will be transferred to other communities in Italy.

The basilica's abbot, a flamboyant former Milan fashion designer, was moved two years ago.

Il Messaggero reports that Simone Fioraso transformed the church, renovating its crumbling interior and opening a hotel, holding regular concerts, a televised bible-reading marathon and regularly attracting celebrity visitors with an unconventional approach.

One of the nuns at the monastery, Anna Nobili, a former lap-dancer, reportedly took part in dance performances with other nuns during religious ceremonies.

But the Vatican was reportedly not pleased by rumours that circulated about the behaviour of the monks.

"An inquiry found evidence of liturgical and financial irregularities as well as lifestyles that were probably not in keeping with that of a monk," Father Ciro Benedettini, a Vatican spokesman, is reported as telling the Guardian newspaper.

An inquiry was carried out by the Vatican's Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life but has not yet been made public, La Stampa reports.

Santa Croce is one of Rome's oldest and most prestigious churches, and was built around a chapel dating back to the 4th Century.

It is one of the Italian capital's key places of pilgrimage as it is believed to house holy relics.

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