French nun Sister Andre, who turns 117 on Feb 11, 2020 after surviving Covid-19, says she enjoys a daily glass of wine.
French nun Sister Andre, who turns 117 on Feb 11, 2020 after surviving Covid-19, says she enjoys a daily glass of wine.

Europe's oldest person, turns 117 after surviving Covid

Born Lucile Randon on February 11, 1904, Sister Andre said she didn't realise she had caught the coronavirus, which infected 81 residents of her retirement home in the southeast city of Toulon, killing 10 of them.

"I didn't know I had it," André said in an interview with CNN affiliate BFMTV. "No, I wasn't scared because I wasn't scared of dying."

David Tavella, spokesman for the Sainte-Catherine-Laboure nursing home, said she had "experienced a triple confinement: in her wheelchair, in her room and without a visit", AFP report.

Sister Andre said she was not going to do anything special for her 117th birthday but the home is planning a celebration for her.

André is preparing to celebrate her 117th birthday on Thursday, and Tavella told France Inter her favorite birthday meal includes foie gras and baked Alaska.

"Sister André's birthday is taking place at a good time -- it couldn't be a better time, because it will mark the beginning of big festivities that will be organized around this relaxing of our restrictions," Tavella told BFMTV. "Our residents will be able to get out of their rooms, eat together, participate in activities.

Who is Sister André? Biography and her Family

Sister André, born Lucille Randon, was born on 11 February 1904, under the Third French Republic, and celebrated her birthday in Toulon, in the nursing home where she has resided since 2009, when she was “only” one hundred and five years old.

She has lived through two world wars as well as the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic -- she told CNEWS she didn't catch the deadly virus -- and remains philosophical about the coronavirus.

André became the oldest living person in France in October 2017 following the death of Honorine Rondello, and is the second-oldest French person ever, following Jeanne Calment, who lived to 122.

Who is Sister André - Europe's oldest person, a 117-year-old French nun, survives COVID-19
Sister Andrée will celebrate her birthday on Thursday. Photograph: Gérard Julien/AFP/Getty Images

Born in Ales in a Protestant family, she grew up as the only girl among three brothers.

One of her fondest memories was the return of two of her brothers at the end of World War I.

"It was rare, in families, there were usually two dead rather than two alive. They both came back," she told AFP last year, on her 116th birthday.

She converted to Catholicism and was baptised at the age of 26. She joined the Daughters of Charity order of nuns at the relatively late age of 41.

Sister Andre was then assigned to a hospital in Vichy, where she worked for 31 years and then spent 30 years in a retirement home in the French Alps before moving to Toulon.

She is the second-oldest living person in the world, according to the Gerontology Research Group, after Japanese woman Kane Tanaka, who is 118.

Asked what she would say to young people, Sister Andre said: "Be brave and show compassion."

Last year, Andrée said 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 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.”
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