Written by 4:57 pm In the News

117-year-old nun beats Covid

Europe’s oldest person, blind French nun Sister Andre, has survived Covid-19 and marked her 117th birthday this week, her caregivers said. 

Lucile Randon, who took the name of Sister Andre when she joined a Catholic charitable order in 1944, tested positive for coronavirus in her retirement home in Toulon, southern France, on Jan. 16. She was isolated from other residents but displayed no symptoms.The French nun, who is believed to be the world’s second-oldest person is celebrating her 117th birthday in style with champagne and red wine, a feast with her favourite dessert, a Mass in her honour and other treats to toast Sister André’s exceptional longevity through two world wars and the recent bout of COVID-19.“It’s a big day,” David Tavella, the communications manager for the nun’s care home in the southern French city of Toulon, told The Associated Press. “She is in great shape. I went to see her this morning. She is really happy. She wanted me to tell her the schedule for the day again.”

It was packed. Some of Sister André’s’s great-nephews and great-great nephews joined a morning video call for her and the bishop of Toulon celebrated Mass in her honour.

“She was very proud when I told her. She said, ‘A Mass for me?’” Tavella said.

The menu for her birthday feast included a starter of foie gras, followed by capon with fragrant mushrooms and baked Alaska, the nun’s favourite dessert.

“All of it washed down with red wine, because she drinks red wine. It’s one of her secrets of longevity. And a bit of champagne with dessert, because 117 years have to be toasted,” Tavella said.

As for packing dozens of candles onto a cake, “we stopped trying a long time ago,” he added. “Because even if we made big cakes, I’m not sure that she would have enough breath to blow them all out. You would need a fire extinguisher.”

Asked if she was scared to have covid-19, Sister Andre 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.”

David Tavella said she was doing well. “We consider her to be cured”.

He said Sister Andre is very spirited. “She has been very lucky,” he added.

Sister Andre, who was born on 11th February 1904, is the world’s second-oldest living person according to the Gerontology Research Group’s (GRG) World Supercentenarian Rankings List. The oldest person is Japanese Kane Tanaka, who turned 118 on 2nd January.

The world’s 20 oldest people in the Gerontology Research Group list are all female.

(AP & Reuters)

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