Why is Katy Perry obsessed with this convent?

Carly Milne
Writer, Yahoo Entertainment & Lifestyle
The former home of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. (Photo: Getty Images)

Last week, Katy Perry won the latest legal hurdle in her quest to purchase a Los Angeles convent. A jury awarded $5 million in legal fees to Perry and the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles, which will reportedly be paid to them by Dana Hollister, the designer, entrepreneur, and restaurateur who is on the other side of the battle for this sprawling property in the Los Feliz section of L.A.

For those who need a refresher, Perry and Hollister have been embroiled in this struggle since 2014, when Sisters Rita Callanan and Catherine Rose Holzman angled to sell the convent to Hollister once they heard the archdiocese was negotiating a sale to Perry. The nuns were a part of a nonprofit called Sisters of the Most Holy and Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which is listed as owning the land, but the sisters haven’t lived there since 2011.

Hollister moved into the property, but Perry wasn’t deterred, reportedly spending upwards of $2.6 million in legal fees. The Los Angeles Superior Court ruled in March 2017 that Perry had the right to buy the convent, with the archdiocese citing that the decision to sell the property is theirs, because they oversee the nuns’ nonprofit.

But the battle might not be over. There’s a new trial set for next month that will determine whether or not Perry and the church should get punitive damages, and Hollister has said she’s taking her case all the way to the top — the Vatican. As Hollister told the Hollywood Reporter, she’s “been using back channels in Rome to appeal to the Vatican and Pope Francis with her $30 million offer,” which is more than double what Perry is offering to pay. The nuns are appealing the legal decision to allow the property’s sale to Perry, while Hollister is appealing the $5 million in legal fees she’s now on the hook for.

Though she claims not to be angry with Perry, Hollister wants to make it clear she’s standing by the nuns. “This story is about their legacy of standing up against something very powerful,” she told THR. “It’s like David and Goliath. … It begs the question: Why aren’t you taking the highest offer? Is it because the sisters didn’t obey authority, is that it?”

With so much drama over one property, you’d think Perry would just move on and find another place to live — but she refuses to do so. What is it about this convent that has Perry digging in her heels? We have some theories…

Religion is in her blood.
As many know, Perry was raised in a very religious family — her parents were evangelical Christian pastors, and she grew up sheltered from a lot of the things that are now a part of her life. In fact, as she shared with Vogue, “Amy Grant was our Madonna. We knew about Madonna and Marilyn Manson in my family because we picketed their concerts.” Perry even helped hand out pamphlets about how to find God at a Marilyn Manson concert. “My house was church on Sunday morning, church on Sunday night, church on Wednesday evening,” she shared. “You don’t celebrate Halloween; Jesus gives you your Christmas presents; we watch Bill O’Reilly on TV. That was my whole childhood and youth and early teens. I still have conditioned layers dropping off of me by the day.”

As much as those layers might be dropping off, it’s hard to deny that religion played a big part in shaping Perry and now could be playing a part in her fight for a new place to live.

She needs some peace and quiet.
Being an international pop star can be a high-pressure, nonstop, exhausting if fun ride, but with her move into purposeful pop, Perry is focused on taking her career to the next level, which brings a whole new set of challenges. As Perry told Vogue, “I blasted off on a rocket, holding on for dear life. But I had so much ambition and determination, and that’s what kept me going. The rocket was riding me for a bit, but now I am riding the rocket.”

So how does a high-profile star manage those pressures? By creating a silent sanctuary, which is exactly what Perry plans to do with the convent. As Perry told the L.A. Times, she wants to turn the space into a home for herself, her mother, and grandmother, and that she wants to “sit in the meditation garden, sip green tea, and find herself.”

Speaking of purposeful pop and finding herself…

She’s on a spiritual journey.
Perry has made no secret of her passion for Transcendental Meditation, which she learned from ex-husband Russell Brand. “It’s a game changer,” she told Vogue. “I will feel neuro pathways open, a halo of lights. And I’m so much sharper. I just fire up!” Perry has said she meditates before writing songs, going on stage, or when she needs a break from social media and life. “You have to give yourself a moment to revive, unplug, rejuvenate, and Transcendental Meditation does that for me,” she’s said.

On top of that, Perry has been on a mission to transform herself into more of a woke activist cultivating awareness, and making more of a break from her cloistered religious past. Obviously it’s somewhat ironic that she wants to do this by living in a property known to be a convent, but as the enlightened know, the path to peace is an internal journey … so why not take that journey on expressly spiritual land? Some go to India for this, but Perry wants to do this at a new home in L.A. They don’t call it the City of Lost Angels for nothing, so maybe this — and the convent — is the perfect place for Perry to find what she’s looking for.

It’s gorgeous — and huge.
In a town filled with massive, breathtaking properties and megamansions as far as the eye can see, the convent is truly a sight to behold. It’s an eight-acre property with a central courtyard featuring a pool, garden terraces with fountains, multiple buildings including a church, incredible views of the mountains … and that’s just the outside. Inside, the convent reportedly has 25 bedrooms and 29 bathrooms spread across 20,000 square feet, with Spanish and gothic features. That’s a lot of room to meditate and find yourself.

The property has a long and storied history. Known as the Earle C. Anthony House, it was built in 1927 for Anthony, who was an L.A.-area businessman. Sir Daniel Donohue and Countess Bernardine Murphy Donohue bought the property in the early ’50s, but after the countess died, the sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary gathered funds to purchase it in 1972 and they lived there until 2011, when the archdiocese reportedly forced them to move.

Which brings us to the current real estate battle surrounding the estate…

She’s not one to back down from a fight.
Perry has been scrapping it out over this property for three years now. She’s leapt through numerous legal hoops, is working on purchasing a new retreat for displaced priests who still use the convent’s house of prayer, and even appealed to the sisters by singing “Oh Happy Day” to them to prove her commitment to honoring the convent’s legacy. And even though Hollister says she’s taking this all the way to the top and fighting it out with the Vatican, Perry is reportedly in negotiations to officially move in.

This is par for the course for Perry, who has fought for everything she ever wanted, and she usually wins in the end. When her gospel-singing career stalled, she shifted her focus. When it seemed her career was stalling out time and time again, she kept at it, breaking through with a smash album that yielded five consecutive No. 1 singles. When Taylor Swift’s fans came at her for their long-simmering feud, Perry stood her ground … and even when she relented, in a desire to squash the feud, it wasn’t because of outside pressure, it was because she wanted to.

We may not have heard the last of this real estate battle, but don’t be surprised if it’s Perry who emerges victorious.

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