‘For her, it’s a liberation’: World’s oldest person dies in her sleep

Sister Andre on the eve of her 117th birthday in 2021 (AFP/Getty)
Sister Andre on the eve of her 117th birthday in 2021 (AFP/Getty)

The world’s oldest person has passed away aged 118.

Lucile Randon, who took the name of Sister Andre when she joined a Catholic charitable order in 1944, was born on 11 February 1904.

She assumed the title of oldest person alive last April at the age of 118 and 73 days, not long after claiming the record for the oldest survivor of Covid-19.

Sister Andre’s nursing home in Toulon, France shared news of her death on Monday. She died in her sleep, spokesperson David Tavella said.

“There is great sadness but … it was her desire to join her beloved brother. For her, it’s a liberation,” Mr Tavella, of the Sainte-Catherine-Labouré home, told AFP.

Guinness World Records said Sister Andre had lived through the invention of plastic, television, microwave ovens, the internet and smart phones.

1904, the year of her birth, saw the opening of New York’s first subway line, the beginning of work on the Panama Canal and the signing of the Entente Cordiale between Britain and France.

The events of the First World War, which she saw as a young girl, stayed with her throughout her life. In 2020 she told French radio: “I’ve had plenty of unhappiness in life and during the 1914-1918 war when I was a child, I suffered like everyone else.”

During World War II, Sister Andre worked as a teacher and a governess, before going on to work at a hospital in Vichy for 28 years.

She later dedicated her life to religious service and became a Catholic nun. She was made an honorary citizen in Toulon, where she moved in her final years, in 2019 and even received a letter from Pope Francis.

Sister Andre is interviewed by the press in April 2022 (AFP/Getty)
Sister Andre is interviewed by the press in April 2022 (AFP/Getty)

The nun claimed her secret to long life was work. “They say that work kills, me it was work that made me live, I worked until I was 108”, she said in April 2022.

She was also known to have a daily glass of wine.

In her later years she was blind, confined to a wheelchair and partially deaf.

Sister Andre was the second-oldest European person ever recorded, around four years short of the record 122 years and 164 days set by Jeanne Calment – the oldest person in history.

After the sister caught Covid-19 in January 2021, she was asked by local news if the illness had scared her.

She said: “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 – to join my big brother, and my grandfather and my grandmother,” she said.