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A Brief History of Katy Perry's Legal Battle with Some Nuns

The story that has everything: a feature length documentary, Katy Perry reading hymn lyrics off her phone, and a death.
Lauren O'Neill
London, GB
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OK so: if you've been on the internet at all this weekend you'll have the basic takeaway that a nun who was locked in a legal battle with Katy Perry (of all people) died in court during a part of that legal battle. Perhaps what you don't know, however, is that this is a case that has been raging on for almost two years – full of twists, turns, and uh, a feature-length documentary (!!!) about the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, based in California. Here's your primer, so you can "well, actually" everyone at your place of work today:


June 2015: Katy Perry launches her bid to buy a convent in California

Basically this whole thing boils down to ownership. Here are the technicalities: the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary insist that their former convent in Los Feliz, California belongs to them, while the Catholic archdiocese (kind of like, the part of the Catholic church that has jurisdiction over a certain area) of Los Angeles says it is the owner. The issue at hand is that the nuns wanted to sell the property to restauranteur Dana Hollister, while the archdiocese want to sell to Perry. The nuns sold quickly for $15.5 million, but there's a legal question over whether they have the right to do so.

July 2015: Katy Perry attends a private audience with the nuns

Despite Perry's attempts (“She pulls out her phone to get the words for "Oh Happy Day,"" said Sister Rita Callinan, 77, at the time), the nuns still wanted to go with Hollister. The nuns state that it's not over any material of Katy's that might be deemed "inappropriate" but because Hollister simply offers more cash: "She’s a very nice person, but it’s not the better deal. This is about money – control of money,” said Sister Rita. Nuns can do business too! Get that gwop, go on grab that!

Also July 2015: A judge deems that the nuns' sale is invalid

So the nuns' speedy sale was deemed legally invalid by a judge, and Katy Perry's hopes and dreams of living in a former Catholic convent rose from the dead, to use Catholic parlance, ha ha.

April 2016: The sale is officially ruled as invalid

The archdiocese's lawyer Michael Hennigan stated that LA judge Stephanie Bowick had officially ruled that the nuns' sale to Hollister was not legal, and freed up the property for Perry to buy.

March 2018: The nuns upload the feature-length documentary Katy Perry Nuns "Our Story"

As the legal battle roared on, the nuns decided to tell their side of the story, which they claim is about "women's rights" in the face of the Catholic church's patriarchy. Not sure I'm too convinced but have a watch for yourself if you've got a spare, erm, hour.

Also March 2018: One of the nuns literally dies in court

It was reported that Sister Catherine Rose Holzman, who was fighting the sale to Perry alongside Callinan, died on Friday 9 March while attending court proceedings regarding the case. Like, she literally died. Little is known regarding the cause of her death, though it has been confirmed by the sisters on their website, where a tribute which reads "Rest with the angels our most precious treasure" has been posted alongside a photo of Holzman.

So there you go. It's actually not that clear where this leaves the legal battle – presumably it makes no difference, and Callinan will continue to oppose the sale by herself – but at least now you can lord it over your friends and colleagues, and impress your Tinder matches with your excellent knowledge of this legal timeline.

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