France: Sister André, the Oldest Person in the World, Has Died

January 21, 2023

Sister André, a French nun recognized since last April as the oldest person in the world, died on January 17, 2023, in her retirement home in Toulon, the center's spokesperson told AFP. She would have been 119 in February.

“She died at 2 a.m.” in her sleep, the official said, announcing the death of Lucile Randon, known as Sister André, born on February 11, 1904 in Alès, in the south of France.

The nun, blind and in a wheelchair for the last part of her life, had not hidden a certain weariness for several years and confessed that her wish was to “die soon.” But “God does not listen to me, He must be deaf,” she said with humor in a long interview with AFP last February.

Born into a non-practicing Protestant family, she converted to Catholicism at the age of 26 and took the habit late, after 40 years, in the Congregation of the Daughters of Charity. When she retired, she continued to care for people younger than she.

“They say work kills, but for me it's work that makes me live, because I worked until I was 108,” she said at the time. “We felt great sadness, but she wanted to be reunited with her beloved brother. For her, it's a release,” David Tavella, head of communications at the St. Catherine Labouré retirement home in Toulon, on the Mediterranean coast where she lived, told AFP.

Sister Thérèse, another resident of the retirement home, said last April that her mission was “to help others” and that “her faith gave her strength.”

In 2021, she contracted Covid-19 and overcame it without difficulty. She received many letters from many parts of the world, to which she replied, except when asked for pieces of her hair.

She joked about the record she had to beat, that of Jeanne Calment, who died at age 122 in Arles in 1997, in the south of France. She shared many memories thanks to her intact memory, preserved until the end. Among them, the dramatic loss of her twin Lydie at the age of 18 months and her arrival in Paris. Sister André always looked forward to visits from her great-nephews and great-nieces or from the mayor of Toulon, whom she greatly appreciated, and who expressed “tremendous sadness” on the occasion of her death.

To the Youtuber TiboInshape who asked her a few months ago if she was sometimes bored, Sister André answered tit for tat: “I am never bored because I pray in the time I have free!” And who was she praying for? “For everyone and especially for the unfortunate, I like to pamper people and in prayer, I find the resources.”