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Maybe God has forgotten me, jokes France’s oldest woman at 118

Sister André, who is also the oldest living person in Europe, celebrated her birthday on Friday with her traditional port and chocolate cocktail

Sister André

Sister André is the second oldest French person ever to have lived, after Jeanne Calment Pic: Abaca Press / Alamy Stock Photo

France’s oldest person Lucile Randon, known more commonly as Sister André, celebrated her 118th birthday yesterday (February 11). 

She is also the oldest verified living person in Europe and second oldest in the world, after Japanese woman Kane Tanaka (119 years old).

The nun, who lives in Toulon in the south of France, is the second oldest French person ever, after Jeanne Calment, who died aged 122 in 1997. 

Sister André is also the oldest person known to have had Covid, which she caught in January 2021. However, she almost did not notice having it, and recovered without developing any symptoms. 

Read more: France's oldest woman beats Covid-19 to mark 117th birthday

Birthday celebrations

Sister André marked her birthday yesterday with a small celebration, including her traditional port and chocolate cocktail, and a large dose of humour. 

“I can't stand them anymore - guests - I'm less amiable,” she told AFP wrly.

“I was always admired for my wisdom and intelligence, and now I'm mocked for being uncooperative.

"I'm thinking of getting out of this whole thing, but they won't let me," she said, suggesting that God had forgotten to call her to leave the world. 

Despite her sarcastic reluctance, local MP Germaine Levy and Toulon Mayor Hubert Falco visited her yesterday morning. Sister André is said to be fond of the mayor after he once knelt down to tie her shoelaces for her. 

In the afternoon, the archbishop of the diocese of Fréjus-Toulon Dominique Rey visited her to have some chocolate cake. 

Sister André moved to Toulon in 2009 and lives in a retirement home there. She is blind, and uses a wheelchair. 

Sister André’s long history

Sister André was born on February 11 in 1904 in Alès in the Gard (Occitanie). 

Her family were Protestant but she converted to Catholicism at 19. 

She had several jobs during her life, including working in a hospital and caring for elderly people and orphaned children. 

She recalls the 1940s as the happiest time in her life, when she was working as an au pair in Paris.

“I was 40 years old, it was 80 years ago. Paris was of such a magnificent beauty,” she said, Le Point reported.

“Me, who had only ever lived in the Gard in a small, ugly town, arrived in a radiant city.”

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