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Straight outta Colombia: nun raps for pope
[CALI, Colombia] A Colombian nun-turned-rapper in sports sneakers will perform for Pope Francis when he visits her country this week.
Maria Valentina de los Angeles is one of a group who will sing the official song for the Argentine pontiff's visit as he greets the crowds.
It is "an opportunity to show him our love the way that we know, which is through music," Maria Valentina, 28, told AFP.
"The cool thing about rap is that it sticks in your head easily. And when it has the depth of truth, which is Christ, then it is even more striking."
The petite nun, 28, performs a rap interlude among the cheerful Latin beats of the song "Let's Take The First Step" by the United Catholic Musicians.
The ensemble headhunted her after she won a reality-show competition on television called "Another Level".
The United Catholic Musicians hailed the naturalness of her rapping and invited her to compose and perform the rap interlude.
Francis visits Colombia, a Catholic country of 47 million, from September 6 to 10.
He is credited with aiding a peace deal signed last year between the Colombian government and the leftist Farc rebel force after half a century of war.
"Colombia welcomes you with open arms," goes Maria Valentina's rap.
"With one voice happily we say to you: blessed be God, who in his wisdom has brought you to our land to be its guide."
The nun says she likes the rebellious spirit of rap.
For her, it chimes with Pope Francis's own call to the young to "make trouble" - his way of telling them to fearlessly share their faith.
"Trouble in the way the holy father means it is being different, being bold and bringing a message of joy, hope and charity," she told AFP in the western city of Cali, where she is based.
"Our intention beyond just thanking the holy father is to act as a church so that all people can sing with us."
Maria Valentina is a member of the Community of Eucharistic Communicators of the Heavenly Father in Cali.
The group was formed in response to a call from the late Pope Jean Paul II for artists to use their work as a means of spreading the gospel.
Its members include a television producer and a musical group including Maria Valentina, which has made two records.
"God wants to be known through the media," she says.
"He has to make himself known by way of current trends."
Maria Valentina also strums the ukelele and played rock guitar in her youth.
She says God saved her from a serious liver disease when she was a youngster.
"My dream is to be a good nun. Making music is a second dream," she says.
"I want to make more recordings, but more than making people fall in love with my voice, I want to make them fall in with Jesus."