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World's oldest nun says 'joy' secret to long life

Camillian sister has seen nine popes

20 February, 15:50
World's oldest nun says 'joy' secret to long life (ANSA) - Vatican City, February 20 - A Camillian nun who turned 107 on Thursday said a joyful attitude and service to others were part of the secret to her long life.

"God does it all," said Alma Bellotti, also known as suor Candida, pointing upwards. "I merely give Him thanks," she added.

However, the world's oldest nun admitted that "living in joy and making those around you happy" certainly helped keep her in good mental and physical health.

Born into a humble family in the northern city of Verona, Bellotti joined the Camillians over 80 years ago, dedicating her life to the ministry to the sick for which the religious order founded by St Camillus de Lellis in 1582 is known.

She has travelled around much of Italy and is currently based in the Tuscan city of Lucca. She advised young people to be "attentive and docile" to the word of God, "the only thing that gives us full joy". On Thursday she attended Mass at the Vatican guesthouse where Pope Francis has been living since his election last March and was able to exchange a few words.

However, she refused to say which of the nine popes she has seen in her lifetime she liked most.

"The pope is the pope, there can be no discussion, he is the Vicar of Christ and must be followed unquestioningly," she said.