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Pope Francis Greets Oldest Nun in the World
Sister Candida Bellotti Celebrated Her 107th Birthday Attending Mass Celebrated by the Holy Father
By H. Sergio Mora
ROME, February 21, 2014 (Zenit.org) - Camillian Sister Candida Bellotti celebrated her 107thbirthday Thursday, making her the oldest nun in the world. It was a very special birthday, as she celebrated with Pope Francis.
Immediately after the morning Mass the Pope celebrates at his residence Saint Martha's, he greeted the Italian religious. "I couldn't have a greater joy than that of celebrating my birthday with Pope Francis," said Sister Candida.
She who belongs to the Congregation of the Ministers of the Sick of Saint Camillus, added: "In my 80 years as a religious I have never regretted having chosen this vocation."
"Only one who feels the happiness of being close to the Lord can understand how abundant his love is for us and how much peace he gives our heart," she added.
Sister Candida was born in northern Italy, in the city of Quinzano, in Verona, on February 20, 1907. Her name before entering the convent was Alma Bellotti. She was the third of 10 siblings. Her father was a shoemaker and her mother a homemaker.
About the secret of such notable longevity, the nun who has lived during the pontificate of 10 popes, said: "To listen to the voice of Christ and to be docile to his will. During my whole life I have thought: where the Lord takes me, that's the right place for me."
Her favorite prayer: the Holy Rosary, as well as another prayer she repeats during the day: "Lord, I adore you and I thank you for your love and mercy," - a simple prayer to memorize, rich in content.
The Camillians are a Religious Order dedicated to the care of the sick. Those who know Sister Candida say she has always lived her vocation exemplarily, with coherence and lively simplicity, giving witness of the message of charity of Saint Camillus to the poor and the neediest.
She made her vows in 1932, shortly before World War II. She worked primarily in Rome, Turin, Camaiore and Viareggio. In 2000, at 93, she was sent to the Order's Motherhouse in the city of Lucca for a well-deserved rest. She participates in the life of the community, attends Mass, and contributes in whatever way she can, say her fellow Sisters. When she was 100, she traveled to Lourdes and now she has taken part in the Holy Father's Mass.
Theor Order of Ministers of the Sick was founded in August of 1582, when Saint Camillus of Lellis (1550-1614) was inspired to create "a company of pious and good men who would serve the sick (...) voluntarily and out of love of God, with the same love that a mother has for her only sick child."
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