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Longevity Warrior Sister Andre, the French nun who was believed to be the World’s oldest person passed away in her sleep on January 17, 2023, at the age of 118, according to David Tavella, a spokesperson at Sainte Catherine Laboure Care Home in the port city of Toulon, Southern France.
“There is great sadness but … it was her desire to join her beloved brother. For her, it’s a liberation,” said Tavella.
Born Lucile Randon, Sister Andre was born in the town of Ales, Southern France on February 11, 1904. The Supercentenarian lived through two world wars, the Vichy Regime, the Great Depression, Les Annees Folles of the 1920s, the Declaration of the Fifth Republic, the Riots of May ‘68, the Spanish Influenza, the Cold War, Armistice, the dawn of the internet, 10 Popes, 18 different French presidents, and more recently she made headlines when she survived COVID-19 with minimal symptoms.
When asked if she was scared to have Covid, the nun told France’s BFM television: “No, I wasn’t scared because I wasn’t scared to die … I’m happy to be with you, but I would wish to be somewhere else – join my big brother and my grandfather and my grandmother.”
“She didn’t ask me about her health but about her routine. She wanted to know for example if the meal and bedtimes were going to change. She showed no fear of the illness, in fact, she was more worried about the other residents,” said Tavella.
When asked about her exceptional longevity and resilience throughout her impressive life Sister Andre told the French media that “working … makes you live. I worked until I was 108.”
She first encountered electricity as a small child at school when she turned on a light, electricity was a new word for her to learn which she said was “a joy.” Sister Andre worked as a governess and as a tutor before entering a convent in 1944 at the age of 40.
In 2020, Sister Andre told French radio she had no idea how she had lived so long. “I’ve no idea what the secret is. Only God can answer that question,” she said. “I’ve had plenty of unhappiness in life and during the 1914-1918 war when I was a child, I suffered like everyone else.”
She was known to enjoy a daily glass of wine, port, or Champagne with some chocolate, in fact, that is how she toasted her 117th level up in 2021. However, recently Sister Andre’s health, unfortunately, deteriorated, she became disabled with infirmities of age with poor hearing, loss of eyesight, and her face became contorted by joint pain.
In a statement, French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte, saluted “this altruistic personality whom the French considered as a reference, a source of pride and attachment.”
Sister Andre is not the only French SuperAger, Jeanne Calment was another French woman who lived in Southern France as well with an exceptional lifespan, passing on at the age of 122 in 1997 at the time Calment was said to hold the record of longevity.
After the death of Japan’s Kane Tanaka at the age of 119 last year the Gerontology Research Group listed Sister Andre as the World’s oldest known person. Now with the passing of Sister Andre, according to the group’s validated details, the World’s oldest known person is American-born Maria Branyas Morera who has had 115 levels ups and is living in Spain.
Supercentenarian (aged 110+) status is reached by around 1 in 1,000 Centenarians (aged 100-109). Supercentenarians typically live a life that is for the most part free of major age-related diseases until shortly before they reach their maximum human lifespan.
A 2021 genomic study identified genetic characteristics that protect against age-related diseases, particularly variants that improve DNA repair. Five variants were found to be significant, affecting STK17A (increased expression) and COA1 (reduced expression) genes. Supercentenarians also had an unexpectedly low level of somatic mutations.
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