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117-Year-Old French Nun, World’s Second Oldest Person, Survives COVID-19

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Sister Andre, also known as Lucile Randon, is getting back to her old self after contracting the coronavirus. She’s Europe’s oldest living person and, at age 117, she’s still going strong. She tested positive for the virus on January 17th but says she didn’t have any symptoms. 

In fact, she told the local news media that she didn’t even realize she had it until the test came back positive.

Her story is a delightful reminder that life goes on…and on.

Going on Lockdown

Sister Andre is a resident of the Sainte Catherine Labouré retirement home in the French city of Toulon. She was one of dozens of seniors there to get infected with COVID-19. The records show that 81 of the 88 residents eventually contracted the virus, and 10 have since died from the disease.

Blind and in a wheelchair, Sister Andre says she wasn’t worried about dying after coming down with the virus. This isn’t her first pandemic, after all. She survived the 1918 Spanish flu and WWII.

Instead of panicking, the doctors say she was more worried about changes to her daily routine than her overall health. “She wanted to know, for example, if the meal and bed times were going to change,” David Tavella, spokesman for the facility, told Reuters earlier this week. 

“She showed no fear of the illness. In fact, she was more worried about the other residents.”

While she didn’t have any symptoms, she was forced to quarantine from the other residents. She spent her time in isolation praying for the well-being of others and longing for days when it was still safe to have lunch with friends or go for a long walk in the community garden.

“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,” she said during a local TV interview.

Last Tuesday, the doctors declared that she had “fully recovered” just in time for her 117th birthday, which was yesterday, Thursday, February 11th.

“We consider her to be cured. She is very calm, and she is looking forward to celebrating her 117th birthday on Thursday,” Tavella confirmed.

Now that she has the all-clear, Sister Andre said she planned to host a small gathering to celebrate her birthday.

“She’s been very lucky,” Tavella added.

A Miraculous Recovery

According to the Gerontology Research Group’s “World Supercentenarian Rankings List,” Sister Andre is the world’s second oldest person, which makes her recovery from COVID-19 all the more extraordinary. She’s listed right behind Kane Tanaka, who’s 118 years, 39 days old and living in Japan.

Lucile Randon was born on Feb. 11th, 1904, in the small town of Alès in Southern France. She grew up in a Protestant family that wasn’t particularly religious. She worked as a governess in Marseille and a tutor in Paris before eventually converting to Catholicism at 19.

She went on to work at a local hospital at the age of 25, and for the next 28 years, she devoted her life to caring for the elderly and orphaned children. 

In 1944, she became a nun at the age of 40 and joined the Sisters of Charity in France. In 2009, she changed her name to Sister Andre and moved into the Sainte Catherine Labouré retirement home.

When she turned 115, Pope Francis even sent her a personal letter and a blessed rosary, according to a local religious news agency.

Last year, the press asked her if she has a secret to staying alive for so long. She answered, “I’ve no idea what the secret is. Only God can answer that question.”

Sister Andre says she’s ready to get back to mass. Despite her successful recovery, she added, “I’ve had plenty of unhappiness in life and during the 1914-1918 war when I was a child, I suffered like everyone else.”

Steven Briggs
Steven Briggs is a healthcare writer for Scrubs Magazine, hailing from Brooklyn, NY. With both of his parents working in the healthcare industry, Steven writes about the various issues and concerns facing the industry today.

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