Clonard, Ireland, Sep 14, 2021 / 13:00 pm (CNA).
Granny Nancy lived through two World Wars, survived the pandemic, and was born before her country – the Republic of Ireland – began. But she is perhaps best known for her Catholic faith.
Nancy Stewart’s story and her love of God went viral last year, when the 107 year old spoke with EWTN correspondent Colm Flynn in an interview that reached five million views on social media. Since then, she has appeared in additional news media reports and has grown an online presence. But on Friday, Nancy’s family revealed that she had passed away to meet the God in heaven that she so loved while on earth.
On Sept. 10, her granddaughter, Louise Coghlan, announced that “My other half of my heart went to heaven this morning at 6am.”
“The last 3yrs living with my best friend was out of this world,” Louise tweeted. “We laughed, we loved & we drank an awful lot of tea! We hope we made you smile! you were my best friend & I’ll never forget you gran.”
Born in 1913, Nancy was recognized as one of Ireland’s oldest women. She cherished every moment of her life as a gift from God.
“I do, I love it, and I love to know what’s going on,” she told Colm in 2020. “I”m well cared for, thanks be to God. The Blessed Virgin and all the saints and angels have looked after me from toe to heel and from heel to head.”
She witnessed great tragedies, including her husband’s death in a 1989 car crash, while they were driving to Mass. But she still lived life to the fullest and spent her time collecting money for children in Africa and for the poor. She dedicated her life to prayer.
“I have three rosary beads here on my arm, from three different people,” she said, showing the rosaries to Colm. “I say them several times here where I’m sitting on an armchair.”
“I say a lot of prayers now, for people I don’t know,” she added. “I ask God to mind them.”
On Sept. 10, Colm remembered Nancy’s life fondly.
“We are so sad to hear the news today of the passing of dear old Nancy Stewart, at 107 years of age,” he wrote. “From the small village of Clonard in Ireland, Nancy captured the hearts of everyone she met, including me. She was a granny to all of Ireland during Covid, regularly uploading messaging of encouragement, positivity, and faith to social media with the help of her devoted granddaughter Lousie.”
“May her granddaughter Louise, and all her family, find strength and comfort during this difficult time knowing the joy and happiness she brought to so many,” he concluded. “Rest in peace, Nanc, and enjoy your heavenly reward.”
Earlier this year, in January, Nancy revealed to The Irish Catholic that she had a goal of attending online Masses in each of Ireland’s 32 counties. She accomplished that goal, the Irish Post reported on Sept. 13, and surpassed it. She was invited to attend Mass virtually in other countries, too, including the U.K. and the United States.
While Nancy outlived her husband and two twin daughters, she left behind three daughters, a son, and 84 grandchildren, great grandchildren and great great grandchildren, according to the Independent.ie.
She would have turned 108 on Oct. 16. The Independent reported her as saying on her birthday last year: “I don’t feel 107. I feel half that, to be honest. It’s all about good food, good friends, and always looking on the bright side of life. I think that’s the secret to a good life.”
She added, “When God wants me, he will come and take me but for now, I will keep enjoying my life.”
Louise documented many of her adventures with Nancy on her Facebook page, “Living and Laughing with Lou.” On Sept. 10, she remembered her grandmother in a special Facebook post.
“I love you granny,” she wrote. “You were my world for so long & for so many others, but now we must let god, my dad & all the angels & saints be blessed with your presence. Forever the other half of my heart, forever my reason to smile even when I feel low.”
Louise also spoke at Nancy’s burial on Sept. 12. She later shared the contents of a “letter of love” that she wrote with Nancy, addressed “To the people of Ireland and all across the world,” in anticipation of her upcoming 108th birthday.
“Life has been very unusual in the last 16 months or so, but we have survived and we have coped,” Nancy began the letter. “And that is the main thing I am here to remind you all.”
Referencing the pandemic, Nancy focused on a message of hope.
“In life we will learn, as I have on so many occasions, that resilience and patience are vital to see your way through a troublesome passage,” the letter continued. “In my lifetime, I’ve been through many tough times that I wish to recall, but even though the ache is in my memory of the pains and struggles, I choose to focus on the good, the positive, the other side of the story, the part where I survived.”
She added: “Whenever you struggle, just think to yourself, if Granny Nancy can survive and come through wars, pandemics, times of poverty, straying as well as losing many members of my family and friends, you can too,” she encouraged. “And that is why we’re writing this letter, to give you hope to keep going.”
At the funeral Mass, which was live streamed on Aug. 19, Louise stressed, “With Granny seated now in heaven, we now know we have someone very special to pray to when in times of need.” Granny Nancy was, she later described, a “real-life miracle.”