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This 97-year-old Italian nun entered the convent at 17, and helped rebuild it after World War II

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Serhii Yevdokymov | Shutterstock

Gelsomino Del Guercio - published on 11/28/22

Sister Serafina has had a vibrant and varied life as a religious sister over these many years, and says she has never regretted her choice.

Sister Serafina, born Imelda Brazzalotto, lives in the Dominican convent in Castel Bolognese, near the city of Bologna. At the age of 97, she’s among the oldest nuns in Italy. She chose to be a cloistered nun when she was 17 years old, back in 1942.

In the workshop with her sister

Interviewed by Italian news outlet Il Messaggero, Sister Serafina said that before becoming a cloistered nun she was a knitter and helped her sister to knit sweaters in the workshop. The daughter of farmers, she discovered her vocation at the young age of 17, and her parents stood by her at that important time. They didn’t hinder her choice; far from it!

She chose the monastery of Castel Bolognese, where a woman from the same hometown, Sr. Teresa Moro (prioress in the 1960s for a long time), was living. “It was precisely on the occasion of her profession in May 1942 that I visited the monastery of Castel Bolognese for the first time to try out its monastic life and rule. I felt at home, and thus made my decision.”

Rebuilding the monastery

Sister discerned that the Lord had definitely called her. “On October 15, 1942, I entered the monastery for good,” she said. “My dad accompanied me on the train.” Today, she’s the only surviving member of the community to have seen the destruction of the monastery during the war:

It had been hit several times by bombing. We rolled up our sleeves and began reconstruction; our relatives also came by bicycle from the Venetian plain with food and basic necessities; my dad was among them. In Castion di Loria they had held a lottery to collect aid for us! Some, especially Mother Teresa Moro’s relatives, even stayed here a few months to help us with the reconstruction.

Many years of consecrated life

In her 80 years as a cloistered nun, Sister Serafina has held many positions at the monastery: “I worked as a knitter, I did sewing, and, like other sisters, I had the privilege of pinning a golden star on the new mantle of the Patroness of Castel Bolognese. I served as Novice Mistress for many years,” she continues in Il Messaggero. “I accompanied the singing of the Nuns and the faithful with the sound of the organ for many years as well, and I was Prioress for nine years. And I have never regretted my choice.”

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Religious LifeVocationsWorld War II
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