The President of the Republic and his wife honor Sr. André

Death of Sister André, the world’s oldest person

Published on 18 January 2023

The oldest person in the world, Cévennes’ Sister André, has died at the age of 118. During a life marked by 18 presidents of the Republic and two world wars, she had become, for the French, a symbol of continuity and resistance, a memory of the century.

She remembered the arrival of electricity in her little school in Alès, the advent of the automobile and aviation, and the hardships of the war.

She remembered watching every morning for the “vaguemestre” (mailman) to deliver the death notices from the frontlines and breathing a sigh of relief when he passed by, a sign that none of her three brothers had been killed. She recounted the happiest day of her life, the Armistice, when people from all over the region had gathered in the town square amid tears and singing.

She recalled her arrival in Paris, her years as a governess, especially with the children of the family of the car manufacturer Peugeot and the assassination of her favourite president Paul Doumer.

She explained her conversion and her baptism as an adult, then her decision, at the age of forty, to enter the Company of the Daughters of Charity, leaving her name of Lucile Randon for that of Sister André, written in the masculine form in homage to the older brother she loved so much. She recalled the decades she spent caring for orphans, the sick and the elderly in a hospital in Vichy, then in the Drôme, before moving to Savoie.

At 118, she still cultivated her two daily pleasures, a glass of wine and a square of chocolate, and kept alive a French tradition of longevity, often joking about the record to be beaten by Jeanne Calment, whose 122 years of age were being challenged daily.

In 2021, her recovery from Covid had made her a symbol of hope, attracting thousands of letters from around the world.

For her, her old age was both “a pride and a disaster” because her health no longer allowed her to be of sufficient service to others, a desire that had driven her deeply since childhood. Immobilized on a wheelchair, blind, she always wore the blue veil of her congregation as a reminder of this vocation. The door of her room in her old people’s home in Toulon was always open to welcome anyone who needed to confide in her a secret, a prayer, or a bit of a heavy burden.

The President of the Republic and his wife honor this selfless woman whom the French considered a guiding light, a source of pride and affection. They send their heartfelt condolences to her loved ones.

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