Vatican Radio’s transmission center is seen in Santa Maria di Galeria, about 16 miles northwest of the Vatican, in this May 31, 2011, file photo. Vatican Radio, which celebrated its 90th anniversary Feb. 12, has launched a web radio service. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Celebrating its 90th anniversary, Vatican Radio received well-wishes from Pope Francis and an avid listener who is the second oldest person in the world.

Sister Andre, a French member of the Daughters of Charity who made headlines recently for testing positive for COVID-19 but weathered it with no symptoms, told the radio in a brief interview, “Happy birthday, Vatican Radio! 90 years old, that’s young!”

The second oldest after a Japanese woman who turned 118 in January, Sister Andre turned 117 Feb. 11 — the eve of the anniversary of Vatican Radio’s birth on Feb. 12, 1931.

The French nun, who has lived through the Spanish flu pandemic, two world wars and 10 pontificates, is blind and lives in a residential home where she is a “dedicated listener of the radio that offers her a window of the world” and supports her prayer life, Vatican News reported Feb. 11.

Pope Francis also sent his greetings to the radio, thanking its staff, who come from 69 different countries, for the work they do and “the love you put into it.”

He said the “beautiful” thing about radio was its ability to reach the most distant and remote places.

He encouraged staff to “forge ahead with courage and creativity in speaking to the world” in ways that help people “see the truth of things.”

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, presided over Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica Feb. 12 with employees from the radio and the Vatican Dicastery for Communication of which the radio became a part in 2017 along with the Vatican’s other media outlets.

Vatican News currently offers radio programs in 41 languages and starting Feb. 12 it will launch “Web Radio” in English, Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German and Armenian at vaticannews.va/en/epg.html.

About 30 live program schedules will be created throughout the year, Vatican News said.

Vatican Radio was established when Pope Pius XI invited the inventor of radio, Guglielmo Marconi, to build a radio broadcasting station on the grounds of the newly established Vatican City State.

The pope’s inaugural message — in Latin — was heard simultaneously in New York, Quebec, London, Paris, and Sydney and Melbourne, Australia.