If you are old enough to have been self aware in 1963, you may remember this song, since it reached #1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 in December of that year.  It is one of a relative few US chart topping songs to be recorded in a language other than English, and as far as I know it is the only one to be written and recorded by a member of a religious order.  The artist is Jeanine Deckers, also known as Sister Luc-Gabrielle O.P., also known as The Singing Nun.  Deckers was a Nun in the Order of Preachers (O.P.), more commonly known as The Dominicans since the order was founded in the year 1217 by Saint Dominic.

The song “Dominique” is, unsurprisingly, a ballad about Saint Dominic:

The song was so popular that a movie starring Debbie Reynolds as Sister Luc-Gabrielle was made in 1965, though the subject of the film herself dismissed it as “fiction”.  Here from the film is Reynolds in character as “Sister Anne” (Hollywood changed the title character’s name) performing  a version of the song in English.  Note: the English lyrics sung in the movie are not a translation of the original song’s lyrics, rather a version composed for the movie.  Follow this link to see the English translation of the original song (along with the original lyrics in French).

In 1965, Deckers left the Convent, though remained a Lay Member of the Dominican Order.  Apparently her first love was music, as she made several unsuccessful attempts at continuing her musical career.  These efforts were hampered by the fact that the recording company owned not only the rights to the song, but also the rights to the names “The Singing Nun”  and “Sister Smile” (which was another name she was known by) and refused her permission to record under those names.  Now suffering from lack of promotion and name recognition, her subsequent recordings were commercial failures.  In addition to that, the Belgian Government claimed she owed $63,000 in back taxes on royalties from the song.  On a note of black irony, she committed suicide in 1985 and her suicide note cited this ongoing financial strife as one of the reasons for her taking her own life.

Final note: Saint Dominic (1170-1221) is credited with promoting the Catholic Devotion of The Rosary.  He is also the Patron Saint of Astronomers.