A nun has given birth in Italy after being rushed from her convent to hospital earlier this week with severe stomach cramps.

The woman, originally from El Salvador, said she had no idea she was pregnant after giving birth to a baby boy on Wednesday, local media have reported.

“I did not know I was pregnant. I only felt a stomach pain,” Italian news agency ANSA quoted her as saying.

The nun has named her child Francesco (Francis), ANSA reported. The name is hugely popular in Italy where St Francis of Assisi is the national patron saint.

The nun belongs to the “Little Disciples of Jesus” convent in Campomoro near Rieti, which is responsible for managing an old people’s home.

People have now begun collecting donations and clothes for the new mother, who is expected to keep the baby, according to reports.

Simone Petrangeli, the mayor of Rieti has asked inhabitants of the small city, which has a population of just 47,700, to respect her privacy

The hospital staff have not yet responded to requests for a comment.

Nuns at her convent are said to be “very surprised” by the birth.

From?Heather Saul?

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