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World’s Oldest Person, French Nun Sister André, Dies Aged 118

world's oldest person died
The world’s oldest person died at the age of 118. Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

French nun Sister André, the oldest known person, passed away on Tuesday January 17. She had survived two world wars, the 1918 influenza pandemic, and the COVID-19 pandemic. The elderly woman was an astounding 118 years old.

Sister André, who had been living at a nursing home in the southern French city of Toulon, passed away while asleep, according to a spokesman for the facility who spoke to French media. “Humanity loses its oldest person tonight,” Hubert Falco, the city’s mayor, wrote on Twitter.

According to Guinness World Records, the French nun is the oldest human being to have survived a case of COVID-19. This fact made her a media sensation in recent years. Just before she turned 117, she survived the disease with few complications.

According to an interview with David Tavella, a spokesman for the Ste. Catherine Labouré nursing home, “She kept telling me, ‘I’m not afraid of COVID because I’m not afraid of dying.'”

In an interview with Agence France-Presse, published on Tuesday, Tavella spoke of Sister André’s “desire to join her beloved brother” in death. “It’s freedom for her,” he said.

Early life of Sister André

Sister André was born Lucile Randon on February 11, 1904 on the same year that New York City‘s first subway station opened. She was born in the southern French town of Alès to a Protestant family of six.

After becoming a governess in Paris, she converted to Catholicism and was baptized at the age of twenty-six. About twenty years later, she joined a charity order and began using her ecclesiastical title.

At a hospital in Vichy, Sister André spent three decades tending to the needs of orphans as well as others.

She had a well-earned reputation for kindness, and she frequently helped those much older than herself who had younger children. “Sister André was, above all, a profoundly good and endearing woman, dedicated to others,” Mayor Falco stated.

Last year in speaking to reporters, Sister André said, “Work kept me alive.”

A history in herself

Throughout her lifetime, Sister André saw the appointment of eighteen different presidents of France and ten different popes altogether. Her loved ones reported she had crystal-clear recollections of world history, including the two world wars.

She has revealed in interviews that she treated many traumatized French soldiers who had served in the Algerian War of Independence (1954-1962), which was fought between France and the Algerian National Liberation Front. The war resulted in Algeria gaining its independence from France.

On her 118th birthday, Sister André also said in an interview that she has unfortunately witnessed constant wars and fights since she was born.

Early in 2021, Sister André’s account of her recovery from COVID-19 was inspirational news during the pandemic, when nursing homes were particularly vulnerable. The majority of the eighty-eight elderly people living at her facility were infected, and several of them passed away.

Editor-in-Chief Craig Glenday of Guinness World Records says, “It’s difficult to fathom that someone born before the patenting of plastic, [zippers], or even bras was alive well into the 21st century and robust enough to beat COVID-19.”

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