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Priest: Stalin’s Daughter Wanted to Become Nun

February 8, 1996

ROME (AP) _ Seeking solace in a troubled life, Josef Stalin’s daughter entered a Roman Catholic convent three years ago, her onetime spiritual adviser said.

Svetlana Alliluyeva ``yearned for peace, for tranquility of mind,″ Rev. Giovanni Garbolino said Thursday. Whether she found it is in doubt; Garbolino doesn’t know if she has remained in the convent.

Alliluyeva, now 70, wrote to Garbolino in July 1993 that she had decided to begin a one-year trial period at a British convent before the three-year novitiate that precedes final vows.

``She really wanted to be a religious woman, because religion could give her that peace, that joy, that hope,″ Garbolino said.

A member of the Consolata missionaries in Rome, Garbolino said he came into contact with the daughter of Stalin _ who turned to Marxism after being expelled from a Russian Orthodox seminary _ just after her defection to the United States in 1967, when he was stationed in Pittsburgh.

Alliluyeva, described by acquaintances in the West as a temperamental woman who seemed to find happiness elusive, was married four times. She returned to the Soviet Union in 1984, where two of her children remained, but left again, citing harsh conditions and poor relations with her relatives.

``I wrote to her in order to encourage her to be a good Christian,″ he said of Alliluyeva, who had been raised a staunch atheist under Soviet communism. He said he lost contact with Alliluyeva in early 1994 after she wrote that she was leaving St. Joseph’s convent near Rugby, England.

Messages left at the convent were not returned Thursday. The convent was set up 14 years ago for women who decide to become sisters late in life.

The Times of London reported Thursday that Alliluyeva was now studying to become a nun at a Swiss convent in Fribourg.

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