Pontiff Sends Birthday Greetings to 104-Year-Old Nun

Recalls Meeting Her During Madrid Trip

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CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 20, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Spanish Cistercian Sister Teresita turned 104 last Friday. Among those congratulating her was Benedict XVI.

The Pope met the nun personally last Aug. 20, when he was in Madrid for World Youth Day. That meeting was only the second time the nun had ever left her cloister, the first having been during the tragic circumstances of the Spanish Civil War.

Sister Teresita has spent 85 years in the cloister, more than anyone else known to history.

She expressed her desire to meet the Holy Father shortly before his Madrid journey, and the apostolic nuncio in Spain, Archbishop Renzo Fratini, shortly thereafter confirmed that it would be possible.

As reported at the time, the meeting was very moving and held a surprise: The Holy Father knew the nun who accompanied Sister Teresita, because she had worked in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith when Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was its prefect.

The centenarian remained seated as Benedict XVI chatted with her, and toward the end of their visit, fervently kissed his ring.

The Pontiff's happy birthday greetings were signed by Monsignor Peter Brian Wells, an official at the Vatican Secretariat of State. The Pope recalled their meeting and encouraged the nun to "continue firm in the Heart of Christ, being an ardent lamp of faith, hope and charity, and thus show the world that the fullness of life consists in joyfully fulfilling the will of God."

Finally, the Pope sent the religious, her sisters and all the benefactors of the Mother of God convent his special blessing.

Sister Teresita entered the convent on the day that Joseph Ratzinger was born, April 16, 1927. She was 19 at the time.

She served as superior of her religious community for more than 20 years and collaborated with nine other cloistered nuns in a book titled "What Is a Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This?" to explain the interior richness and happiness found in contemplative life.

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On the Net:

Video of the Pope's meeting with Sister Teresita in August: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Moabddf1f6o