Pop sensation and slave-4-her-father Britney Spears sent papists into a frenzy on Thursday night by mentioning her Catholic faith to her nearly 33 million Instagram followers in a photo caption.

‘I just got back from mass…I’m Catholic now…let us pray,’ the 39-year-old star wrote.

‘huge draft get,’ tweeted the Atlantic‘s Elizabeth Bruenig.

Cockburn thinks the signs have been there all along. Not only did Britney grow up in Louisiana, where Catholicism is far more widespread than elsewhere in the South due to its former status as a French colony, she’s been dropping subtle hints in her art.

Take the music video for her breakout single ‘…Baby One More Time’. How different the schoolgirl chic she adopted looks in the light of her newly announced faith. Then consider the lyrics of the outro:

‘I must confess that my loneliness is killing me now /
Don’t you know I still believe /
That you will be here and give me a sign /
Hit me baby one more time’

Britney also copped to Original Sin in the chorus of her follow-up single ‘Oops…I Did It Again’

‘Oops, you think I’m in love /
That I’m sent from above /
I’m not that innocent’

There are of course other clues. For instance, Britney has clearly spent several hours racked with guilt, in conflict with a very strict father figure. Then there’s her recent emancipation hearing, where she expressed a desire to get married and have another kid. How trad can you get? (Cockburn acknowledges the fact it would be her third marriage — but Newt Gingrich is on his third wife too and she was US ambassador to the Vatican!)

Spears’s legal conflict with her family developed further this week when her new attorney attempted to have her father Jamie removed from her conservatorship. In the filing, lawyer Matthew Rosengart described Jamie Spears as, and Cockburn struggles to believe this adjective wasn’t very carefully chosen, ‘toxic’.

With more courtroom wrangling ahead, Cockburn can’t blame Britney for turning to God. Presumably she’ll be saying a prayer to St Expeditus, the patron saint of court cases.