Pope Francis has advanced the sainthood causes of three Italian nuns who died from the Ebola virus while ministering to patients in Congo.
The pope signed the decrees on 20th February during a meeting with Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes.
The pope recognised the heroic virtues of three members of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Poor: Sr Floralba Rondi, born in the province of Bergamo, Italy, in 1924; Sr Clarangela Ghilardi, born in 1931 also in the province of Bergamo; and Sr Dinarosa Belleri, born in the province of Brescia, Italy, in 1936.
The sisters were nurses and worked at a hospital in Kikwit in then-Zaire when an Ebola virus outbreak hit the city. A total of six Italian nuns were among the more than 250 victims of the outbreak in Kikwit in 1995.
Sr Floralba, who had spent 10 years at a leprosy treatment clinic near Kikwit, was the first to experience signs of an illness she thought was typhoid, and she went for treatment to Mosango, where she died on 25th April 1995, at the age of 70.
Sr Clarangela, who had been living in the country for nearly three decades, died several days later in Kikwit, at the age of 64, followed a week later by Sr Dinarosa, 58. The sainthood causes for the three other nuns who died in Kikwit in May 1995 are still at their initial stages.
Picture: Pope Francis greets the crowd as he leads the Angelus from the window of his studio overlooking St Peter’s Square at the Vatican on 21st February 2021. (CNS photo/Vatican Media).