One hundred and ten years, a record that is difficult to beat for any person. But even more prohibitive if such target is reached by a nun. A Guinness Book of Records birthday, certainly unique in its genre, but that Sr Candida Bellotti – Religious of the congregation of the Camillians – last Monday 20 February celebrated in joy, surrounded by the affection of her sisters, by the bishop of the diocese of Lucca, but – above all – with a telegram of congratulations arrived early in the morning from the Vatican with the signature of Pope Francis. Wishes that the nun – a life dedicated to care for the sick, assisting the poor and to help the needy and now universally recognized as the long-lived sister at the service of the Catholic Church – read with evident emotion and in a spirit of gratitude towards a personality like Bergoglio, she wanted to specify, to which she is deeply attached, although she has known, directly and indirectly, in the course of her long life as Camillian religious 9 pontiffs, from Benedict XV to Francis.
This is how Jorge Mario Bergoglio sent his congratulations to the religious sister: “To Reverend Sister Candida Bellotti, Sister Minister of the Sick, that with gratitude to God celebrates her 110th birthday, the Holy Father Pope Francis, participating in spirit to the common joy for the happy occasion, addresses warm congratulations and best wishes”. This is what is written in the apostolic blessing arrived from the Holy See. Words that have profoundly affected the addressee, but also those who yesterday were united around her to celebrate, from the Bishop of Lucca, Mgr. Italo Castellani, to the Camillian Sisters, from the provincial superior sister Giuliana Fracasso, to the many friends of yesterday and of today and relatives.
At the side of the Sick
Of Veneto origins, Sr Candida belongs to the Congregation of the Servants of the Sick of St Camillus de Lellis, that precisely this year recall 150 years from the death of the founder, the Blessed Maria Domenica Brun Barbantini. In Italy and abroad, the Servants of the sick work in hospitals, retirement homes and places of care, promoting health pastoral care and health education.
The life and the secret
Born in Quinzano (Verona) on 20 February 1907, from the Thirties Sr Candida (alias Alma Bellotti) has worked as a nurse in various Italian cities, dedicating herself also to the formation of young sisters. Since 2000 she lives in Lucca at the Mother House of the institute where she has been reserved a feast in grand style culminated with the cutting of a gigantic cake with the inscription “110”. Alert and dynamic despite the age, Sr Candida keeps an extraordinary physical and mental activism, and above all, a great irony, that helped her to deal with the difficulties of life with a smile on her face. Also on the occasion of her birthday she was cheerful, inspiring laughter and applause to the people around her. And to those who asked her the “secret” of her longevity, she responded with decision “Love, love and still love. With joy!”: this the advice that she gives to all, “especially to the new generations” – she specified – to which she directs a special invitation: “Have confidence in the future, and strive to achieve your desires”. Word of Sr Candida, religious of the first 110 years.