Sister André, a French nun, has become the oldest person in the world at 118 years and 73 days. She had previously been the oldest woman in Europe when she turned 117 but now has the title after the death of Kane Tanaka, a Japanese woman–the Guinness World Records confirmed her title as the world’s oldest person on Monday.
Born on February 11, 1904, Lucille Randon looked after children as a governess, became a nun during World War Two in 1944 and post-war, she looked after orphans at a hospital in Vichy, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes for 28 years.
Sister André was alive during the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918 and now officially becomes the world’s oldest Covid-19 survivor as she contracted the virus in 2021, although she told The Guardian that “she didn’t even realise that she had it.” She lives in a nursing home in Toulon, in the south of France, where she has been for the past 12 years and stayed in her room at the height of the pandemic as she was told to do, although she has said that she found the solitude difficult.
She has famously received a letter from Pope Francis, and the newly reelected President Emmanuel Macron, who becomes the 18th president to be in power during her lifetime.
When asked the secret to longevity, the world’s oldest person told reporters that she has a glass of wine every day and that chocolate is her “guilty secret”.
The oldest person ever recorded was also a French woman called Jeanne Louise Calment who lived to be 122 years and 164 days old–and who also claimed that chocolate and a love of wine played a large role in longevity.
Pre-pandemic figures in 2019 showed that French life expectancy stood at 85.3 years for females and 79.4 years for males, which is one of the highest in the world.
CNN reported that Sister André called the title a “sad honor”, saying “I feel I would be better off in heaven, but the good Lord doesn’t want me yet.”