World’s oldest woman: 115-year-old Catholic in Iowa

CNS uncovered this just posted on its blog:

The Gerontology Research Group announced this week that 115-year-old Dina Manfredini is the oldest person in the world. She is Catholic and a longtime parishioner of Sacred Heart Parish in West Des Moines, Iowa. She inherited the title when 116-year-old Besse Cooper of Georgia died Dec. 4.

Here’s a profile from last year, in the Catholic Mirror, the newspaper for the Diocese of Des Moines:

Dina was born and raised in Sant’Andrea, a small town in northern Italy, the month the after William McKinley became president of the United States and just a few weeks before Guglielmo Marconi sent the first wireless communication over the open sea. It was still the Victorian age, in fact Queen Victoria was celebrating 50 years on the throne in England. That spring, Pope Leo XIII promulgated his encyclical Divinum Illud Munus, and in September, Giovanni Battista Enrico Antonio Maria Montini, who became Pope Paul VI, would be born in a nearby village.

She came to America as a bride in 1920 and settled with her husband, Riccardo, in a tiny mining camp on the southwest edge of Des Moines. Riccardo was 15-years older and had come to America first before sending for Dina.

The couple raised four children, Mary, Dante, Rudy and Enes. Today, Enes Logli says she and her siblings walked five miles each way every Saturday to and from the old Sacred Heart Church on 4th Street in Valley Junction for catechism classes. “We lived ‘out in the country’ near 42nd and Park. So we couldn’t always get to Mass on Sunday mornings, but we always got to catechism classes,” said Logli. “My parents lived their faith. They were poor, but we didn’t realize it. We didn’t have electricity back then.”

Dina’s husband worked in the city’s coal mines until hurting his back. Then she went to work to make ends meet. As the nation prepared for World War II, Dina worked at the Des Moines Ordnance Plant in Ankeny where 2 million rounds of ammunition were produced a day. She also worked at Swift cracking eggs that would be turned into powdered eggs for U.S. soldiers. She also cleaned houses until she was 90, lying about her age so people wouldn’t think she was too old to work.

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