Anna's mother is Jewish and her father is Catholic, but only by baptism, because his convictions are atheist and "rather anti-clerical". So she, who is now 32 years old, grew up in a home where no one transmitted the faith to her.
Something began to change when, at the age of 17, she left home to study medicine. Her parents decided to put her up in a dorm run by nuns.
"There I met young Catholic women who became my friends," she tells Découvrir Dieu, "with whom I talked about faith and about ethical issues... We didn't always agree, and we also questioned many things for which we didn't always have arguments. But they were very nice conversations and dialogues and they helped us to walk together, side by side".
From Passion at Mass to Passion in the movies
Anna moved on to her sophomore year and then left the residency, although she kept in touch with the group. One day she was asked to go to Mass on Sunday... and it wasn't just any Sunday: "I found myself in the middle of a Mass that lasted two hours, because it was Palm Sunday," a feast on which the Passion of the Lord is sung in its entirety as Gospel.
"When I left, I said to myself that I would never come back. I found it long and quite heavy," he confesses. Although that Holy Week more surprises awaited him: "On Friday I found myself watching a movie called The Passion by Mel Gibson, which shook me up inside".
A circumstance that is repeated in many converts, who discover in this masterpiece of the Austrian-American filmmaker the magnitude of God's love for mankind. This is the case of Gabriela, Isabelle and Priscille, to cite just a few of the testimonies collected in ReL.
To Lourdes... but not to pray, but to study.
The fact is that, in one way or another, whether in conversation, at Mass or at the cinema, Anna gradually came into contact with religion during her first three years at the University. They were "little moments to talk about faith..... God was introduced into my life a little, discreetly, but present".
As the end of the course approached in 2009, she had exams to prepare for and some friends suggested that they should take them together in Lourdes. She accepted and spent a week there.
There, at the end of each day, when they were tired from studying, they went to listen to the pilgrims' testimonies.
Among them was that of a couple who told of their conversion, which would later lead to Anna's own conversion.
A hymn to Our Lady
"At the end of their testimony," she recalls, "they sang a song to Our Lady": "That song really transformed me. Profoundly. I had an inner feeling that I don't know how to explain, the feeling that Mary came to me, took me by the hand, took Jesus' hand and joined our hands saying: 'Now you will go together, as long as possible, on this joyful journey'".
"I felt completely transformed and confused, it was she who introduced me to Jesus, whom I had never met before! She introduced me to her Son and it was the first time I experienced that inner feeling," she confesses.
But not the last: "Since then, Jesus has never left me. Today, Jesus is a brother, a friend, someone firm in whom I can rest, a Father. He is someone who is close to me twenty-four hours a day".
Out of respect for his parents
When she returned to her college, in Tours, after this experience of God, Anna had changed: "I discovered what it is to be a Catholic, to practice this faith, thanks to many families, thanks to many friends. I was lucky to live an extraordinary conversion".
She wanted to be baptized, but did not want to do it immediately out of respect for her parents: "I decided to wait until they agreed. I decided to wait until they were in agreement. I wanted us to be on the same side".
After a while, she finally took the step: "Because I had the feeling that I was denying myself. So I asked for baptism. I received it in 2014, five years after the Lourdes experience. It was a whole itinerary, also traveled by my parents who in a way also lived a conversion. Today they respect my path and the decisions I make about my life."
"I try as much as possible to radiate this faith," she concludes, "this joy that fills me deeply. They can see that I am fully happy, that I am a daughter full of joy. God is there, deeply, every day. And it has really changed my life."