Rome, 20 February 2014 – ‘There could have been no greater joy than to have celebrated my birthday with Pope Francis”. This is how Sister Candida Bellotti, whose hundred and seventh birthday is today, commented on her conversation with the Supreme Pontiff immediately after the morning Holy Mass at Domus Santa Marta. A member of the Congregation of the Women Ministers of the Sick of St. Camillus, Sister Candida is the oldest woman religious in the world. This morning she met journalists who were curious to know about the joyous history of this vocation which has lasted over a hundred years. And she answered all of them with steady breath and a ready comment which was wonderful because of its deep human content.
‘In more then eighty years of religious life I have never repented of my choice’, she wanted to make clear. ‘Only those who feel the happiness of drawing near to the Lord can understand how abundant his love for us is, and how much serenity he leaves in our hearts’. Ten Popes have followed one another during the life of Sister Candida, until Francis: ‘To him’, she observed, ‘go our prayers and our support’.
The secret of such a long life? ‘Listening to the voice of Christ and being meek as regards his will. Throughout my life I have always thought: wherever the Lord puts me, that is the right place for me’. And to those who asked he what her favourite prayer was, this Camillian sister replied: ‘The Holy Rosary. But there is also another prayer that I often repeat during the day. It goes like this: Lord, I praise you, I worship you and I thank you, for your love and your mercy’. It is easy to remember and rich in contents.
Sister Candida is an extraordinary example of a Camillian vocation lived with coherent and lively simplicity, bearing witness to the charitable message of St. Camillus for the sick and those most in need.
The response of the press went beyond all expectations, demonstrating great interest in the event both in secular newspapers and in Catholic ones.
Look here at the press conference.
Look here at the video interview with Sister Candida.