“When I was a nun teaching in the convent, the children called me Sister Piera. Now that I am a Mormon, I am still called Sister Piera,” Piera Bellaviti Schorr told the Deseret News in 1976. “Otherwise, my life is much different.”
And indeed, becoming a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints completely transformed the life Sister Piera knew. Shortly after World War II, Sister Piera joined a convent, the order Madre Pie, becoming a nun and elementary school teacher. Later she was asked to go to the Vatican in Rome where she became the secretary to Pope Pius XII, Pope John XXIII, and Pope Paul VI.
In her 12 years as a secretary, she met bishops, royalty, heads of state, and many other influential people. “And then 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,” Sister Piera told the Deseret News. It was on this mission, while serving as Mother Superior of her convent, that Sister Piera first heard the word “Mormon.” She had to look it up in the dictionary, having never heard it before.
“A nun told me she knew a Mormon family and that Mormons were good people,” she told the Deseret News. “This was the first I learned of Mormons.”
In 1971, Sister Piera returned to her hometown of Milan, Italy. It was there, while on a streetcar to her English class, that Sister Piera ran into two young men dressed in suits.