Susan Sarandon is a firm believer in the power of prayer because she is convinced her words to a higher power helped her realise the miracle of motherhood.

The Oscar-winning actress was told she'd never be able to have children without surgery after she was diagnosed with endometriosis while she was filming The Hunger in the early 1980s.

Sarandon, who was raised a Catholic, admits she wasn't devastated by the health news because she didn't have a boyfriend at the time and had no firm plans to become a mum, but her life changed while she was shooting a film in Italy with Sir Anthony Hopkins.

She explains, "For years I didn't use birth control and I went to Italy to do a movie about Mussolini with Anthony Hopkins and I started seeing this young guy. He was Italian and spoke great English and was gorgeous. He was a nice guy, loved his family, loved Italy, and I finally got a chance to embrace my Italian side, which was why I decided to do the movie in the first place.

"I was gonna learn Italian and everything. And I had been praying, actually praying - because there's so many great churches in Italy - to find some more meaning in my life 'cause at this point, I felt really overqualified for my career. I was working but it wasn't enough and I felt this disconnect and I was 38.

"Nobody understood how this happened but I found myself pregnant. Everyone was telling me, 'You are crazy. Your career's going so well, you can't have a baby now and what are you gonna do and you barely know this guy... I just thought, 'You know, this is something I'm not overqualified for, this is gonna be really an interesting thing...' and so I said to Franco (Amurri), 'I've decided that I'm gonna have this baby and if you wanna be part of it, that's great. If you don't, that's great too.'

"I thought, 'What if this was an impossibility and it's happened, clearly it's meant to happen...? Let's just go for it.' And the rest is history. And I never had any regrets."

Sarandon gave birth to daughter Eva Amurri in March, 1985. She has since had two sons with former partner Tim Robbins.

The actress still has major ties to Italy - she is an honorary citizen of Ragusa in Sicily, where her grandfather was born. He emigrated to the U.S. in 1916, when he was just 15.