Nun 'unaware of pregnancy' gives birth in Italy

A 31 year old nun was blissfully "unaware of pregnancy" right up until she gave birth in the central Italian city of Rieti.

The young mother, who is of El Salvadorian origin and belongs to a convent that manages a home for older people.

She was rushed to hospital with abdominal pain, which she thought was caused by severe stomach cramps.

"I did not know I was pregnant," she said to the Ansa news agency. "I only felt a stomach pain."

Other nuns at the convent declared they were "surprised" by the news.

Italian media sources report that hospital staff and patients have begun collecting clothes and donations for mother and her child.

Don Fabrizio Borrello, a local pastor, has announced that the nun planned to take care of the baby.

"I guess she's telling the truth when she says she arrived at the hospital unaware of the pregnancy," he said.

Because of the increased international attention drawn to the small city of 47,700 people, Mayor Simone Petrangeli has appealed to the press and public to respect the nun's privacy.

It is reported that the baby has been named Francis after the current Pope.