Despite her advanced age, Sister Candida Bellotti retains the enthusiasm of a young woman. On Monday, Feb. 20, she celebrated her 110th birthday and received a special message from Pope Francis.
“To the Reverend Sister Candida Bellotti, Sister Minister of the Sick, who with gratitude to God is celebrating her 110th birthday, the Holy Father Francis spiritually participates in the joy we all share for this happy occasion and sends warm congratulations and heartfelt wishes,” said the pontiff in his message.
At age 80, Pope Francis is 30 years her junior.
Sister Bellotti celebrated her birthday with the Bishop of the Italian Diocese of Lucca, Benvenuto Italo Castellani. She resides in the diocese along with the convent’s sisters and the provincial superior, Sister Giuliana Fracasso.
In a recent interview, she said that her vocation was “sown” in a Christian family.
“Love, love and love still more, with joy,” is the advice she gives everyone, especially the new generations. She has a special invitation for young people: “Have confidence in the future, and strive to the utmost to accomplish your desires.”
Sister Bellotti belongs to the Congregation of San Camillus de Lellis, which this year observes the 150th anniversary of the death of its founder, Blessed Maria Domenica Brun Barbantini.
The 110-year-old sister was born in Quinzano, in the Italian province of Verona, on February 20, 1907. Since the 1930s, she has dedicated herself to serving those in need as a professional nurse in various Italian cities. Since the year 2000 she has been living Lucca, at her congregation’s mother house.