There isn’t much news out of Rome this week, because of the Vatican’s annual Lenten retreat.

But there is one item in today’s Vatican Information Service press release that caught my eye: A list of 19 bishops around the world who have died in recent weeks.

What’s interesting about the list is the average age of these bishops when they died. The average was a startling 86.3 years.

Five of the bishops were in their nineties, with the oldest being Belgian Archbishop Jean Jadot, who served as the Vatican’s representative to the United States during the 1970s. Archbishop Jadot was 99 at the time of his death in January.

Twelve of the deceased bishops were in their eighties, and only two died before the age of 80 with the youngest being Bishop Philippe Kourouma, emeritus of N’Zerekore, Guinea, who died Feb. 11 at the age of 76.

Without some detailed statistical analysis, it can’t be positively asserted that there is a direct correlation between the fact that these men lived a life of deep faith and service to the Church, and the fact that they all survived to a ripe old ages. But their average lifespan is much greater than the average lifespan for men even in developed countries and far in excess of the average lifespan for the developing countries that were the homes of a number of the late bishops.

And this corresponds with other sociological research that indicates that Catholic priests and religious often are quite long-lived. 

So it doesn’t seem unreasonable to conclude that a life of faith and service to the Church can be very good for your health, as well as good for your soul.