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“Dear Pope Francis, Cancer Has Healed My Soul”


Can someone become a saint in just a few months? This is the story of Carlotta, who embraced the cross with joy

To her mother, the violin teacher who handed on the passion for the instrument, Carlotta would write short messages such as:

“Mamma … cancer is the best thing that has happened to me …”

“But it’s true!!!”

“That is, I would have lost the best part of myself.”

“I’m very sorry not to be able to shout it from the rooftops to everyone. Because truly it’s the thing I’m most proud of in my life.”

“More than all I’ve done in 24 years, more than all the hard work I’ve done!”

Is she a saint? Or “a little crazy,” as her mother affectionately responded, torn apart by the worst suffering a parent can face. “But wonderful … capable of showing a love for life beyond limits … there is an extraordinary spirituality in all of this. … Incredible. … That is why you are and will be helped.”

In Rome’s Church of St. James, Carlotta met the parish priest, Don Giuseppe Trappolini. She told him her story, describing her battle with melanoma and the joy she experienced in hearing the words of Pope Francis. Fr. Trappolini decided to write to the pope, to tell him Carlotta’s story.

When Pope Francis received the letter, with typical spontaneity he called the parish priest to thank him and to assure Carlotta of his prayers. Carlotta also wrote to the pope to tell him about her trust in life and her encounter with God: “I know that cancer has healed my soul by loosening all my interior knots and giving me faith, trust, surrender and an immense serenity right at the time when my illness was most severe.”


Can someone become a saint in just a few months? As for being raised to the altars — i.e., the official recognition of the Church of a person’s sanctity, as in the case of St. Dominico Savio, St. Therese of Lisieux or Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati — only God knows if and when it will happen, Fr. Trappolini says.

Nevertheless, he adds, “Carolotta’s holiness as a person who was able to encounter God in this life and in the next, for me, is sure. I am certain that she sanctified the final months of her life in the most canonical way we know: a life of deep faith, prayer, and suffering. She united her life to Christ Crucified. This is holiness. I really believe that holiness is an encounter with the Lord. We are the ones who think about time.”

Carlotta Nobile died on July 16, 2013, at the age of 24. Her desire to meet Pope Francis, who had made himself available, would not be realized. Nor was Carlotta able to participate in the three concerts organized in collaboration with the “Givers of Music Association” (l’Associazione Donatori di Musica), which brings together musicians to play in hospital cancer wards to assist medical treatment.

After Carlotta’s death, concerts, art exhibitions, events and awards were established in her memory. In 2015 the “Carlotta Nobile Study Center Association” (l’Associazione Centro Studi Carlotta Nobile) was founded with the goal of promoting activities and initiatives “connected to her cultural research, her passion and her immense love for life.”


Translation from the Italian by Diane Montagna of Aleteia’s English edition.

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