‘God has forgotten me’: French nun becomes world’s oldest woman

The 118-year-old nun lives in an elderly care home in Toulon, and still takes part in church services, although she admits to getting grumpier as she ages

An elderly nun holds rosary beads
Soeur André is now the world’s oldest woman, and the second-oldest French person ever (photo for illustration only)
Published Last updated

A 118-year-old French woman from Toulon has become the oldest woman in the world, taking over the title from the late Kane Tanaka, who died on April 19 aged 119.

Lucile Randon, more commonly known as Sœur André, is a nun, and has been the oldest woman in France since October 19, 2017, and the oldest woman in Europe since June 8, 2019.

Read more: Maybe God has forgotten me, jokes France's oldest woman at 118

Her place as the oldest woman in the world was confirmed today by mayor of Toulon, Hubert Falco.

The nun 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

Born on February 11, 1904, in Alès (Gard) to a non-practising Protestant family, Sœur André was a governess, au pair, and care worker before entering the orders of the Filles de la Charité.

She converted to Catholicism at age 19, and worked until the end of the 1970s before moving into an elderly care home in Savoie, where she lived for 30 years. She currently lives in an elderly care home in Toulon, and still joins morning service with a number of other nuns.

She celebrated her 118th birthday on February 11 in her usual way: with a port and chocolate cocktail. She is a great-great-aunt, with many grand- and great-grand nephews and nieces.

However, she admits to becoming grumpier as she ages.

In an interview for her 118th birthday, she told the AFP: “I can't stand them anymore – guests. I'm less lovable. 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, before joking that “maybe God has forgotten me”.

Soeur André is now blind and uses a wheelchair. She writes her name in the French masculine form in homage to one of her brothers.

She took over the title as the world’s oldest woman after the death of Ms Tanaka, who was born on January 2, 1903, and died on April 19 aged 119.