Fun Fact: Did you know that the former secretary of Pope Pius XII, Pope John XXII, and Pope Paul VI was converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? Shortly after World War II, she joined the convent and was later asked to go to the Vatican where she became the secretary of the Pope.
During her service as the secretary, she met with government leaders, royalties, and many influential people. It was during one of those events when she was asked a question that introduces her to the faith. “One day at the Vatican the bishop of North Carolina asked me if I would like to go to America. It would be a mission for me,” Piera Bellaviti Schorr told the Deseret News in 1976. She then came across an unfamiliar word that she even needs to look it up in the dictionary: Mormon.
“A nun told me she knew a Mormon family and that Mormons were good people,” she recounts. “This was the first I learned of Mormons.”
One night, on her way back to Milan, she sat down next to “two-clean-cut young men”. They struck up a conversation with her and she later found out that they were “two Mormon Missionaries”, Elder Scott Blaser and Elder David Maxwell.
“I knew next to nothing about the Mormons,” she said. “The elders told me about the Book of Mormon and I asked them to bring me a copy. About two weeks later the elders brought the book to the convent.”
Already having doubts about her current belief, she started to search for answers in the Book of Mormon.
“I soon realized that if I join this church, I have to give up everything. I don’t know if the Lord would really want me to do that because I have “everything” here in the convent. I have my job. I don’t have money because I have taken the vow of poverty, but they take care of everything I need, even when I am sick. My security is here, and I am doing good. I am serving the Lord,” she said. “But this book is true, and this is the true Church. I think I have to pray and ask the Lord what he wants me to do. “Do you really want me to go through this to join this Mormon church?” I asked the Lord. And so I started praying and fasting, and after I prayed and fasted three days I felt strongly this is the true Church, and if I wanted to be happy I had to follow the truth.”
The following days, she wrote a letter to the Mother General sharing her plans to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and leave the convent. Right after receiving her letter, the Mother General took the next train to Milan to convince her that psychiatric help was needed or that she was possessed by the devil.
She then next wrote to the Pope asking him to release her from her vows. The pope replied: “You have your free agency. It’s your decision. I counsel you to pray again and fast, and then if you decide to stay where you are, everything is forgotten. Let me know what you are going to do.”
Persevered to still join the church, she immediately left the convent and went to the railroad station to wait for Sister Davies who was coming from Venice. “When she stepped from the train, right away she came to me because she recognized me immediately. I was standing with two elders, still dressed in my habit,” she said.
Sister Piera Bellaviti Schorr was baptized in Milano on June 8, 1974. “I will never forget the spirit I felt and the gratitude I felt toward my Father in Heaven. He had sent the missionaries and had given me the Book of Mormon. He gave me the courage to give up everything – to go against everybody, to follow the truth, and join the Church, she concluded.
The following month, she moved to the United States where she met her future husband, William H. Schorr. They were happily married in the Salt Lake Temple and after their three children grew up, the couple was called to serve as a missionary to the Bern Switzerland Temple. She passed away in January 2002, dedicating her life to the church having been served as a temple worker at the Jordan River Temple and Salt Lake Temple.
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