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05 March 2024

The “dean of humanity,” Sister André, has passed away at the age of 118


Sister André, born Lucile Randon in a Protestant family, died on Tuesday in her retirement home in Toulon, where she had lived for more than thirteen years.

Paradise could not wait any longer: the doyenne of humanity, the French sister André, died Tuesday at the age of 118, after a life marked to the end by the taste for others and a devastating humor.

A few days before his 119th birthday, “She died at 2:00 a.m. There is great sadness but she wanted it, it was her desire to join her beloved brother. For her, it’s a release.” announced David Tavella, in charge of communication at the Sainte-Catherine-Labouré accommodation establishment for dependent elderly people in Toulon, on the Mediterranean coast where she lived.

  • A liberation

For several years, this woman born Lucile Randon on February 11, 1904 in Alès (Gard), did not hide a certain weariness: she wished “retreat from this matter”. But “the good Lord does not hear me”she confided to AFP in January 2022, during a long meeting.

Blind in a wheelchair, Sister André regretted being less mobile and having lost part of her abilities. “They say that work kills, it was work that made me live, I worked until I was 108”she said in April 2022, when she was made dean of humanity, after the death at 119 of the Japanese Kane Tanaka.

Read alsoSister André, 118 years old: “The good Lord is slow to come, he has forgotten me”

No official organization assigns these titles of dean or dean, but specialists agreed that Sister André was until now the oldest living person whose civil status had been verified. The Guinness Book of Records also recorded this record on April 25.

  • Withstood the Covid

In her retirement home in Toulon, she always liked to taste chocolate and drink a glass of port. His life was punctuated by a mass every morning. She always appeared in her nun’s habit, a blue kerchief over her hair.

SEE ALSO – Sister André, 118 years old, dean of humanity: “The good Lord is slow to come, he has forgotten me” (November 2021)

She carried within her “her mission as a servant of others”explained in April Sister Thérèse, another boarder, certain that “his deep faith” held her. The door to his modest bedroom was always open in case anyone wanted to pop in because “all day alone with your pain, it’s not funny”.

Read alsoFrom the Belle Époque to the present day: the very long life of Sister André, the new dean of humanity

In 2021, she had crossed the Covid without any difficulty, becoming a symbol of hope which had sparked a flood of letters from all over the world. She responded to almost all requests, except requests for locks of hair or DNA research!

She regularly joked about the record to beat, that of Jeanne Calment, who died at 122 in Arles in 1997, in the south of France that they shared. But Jeanne Calment therefore remains the person who has lived the longest in the history of humanity and whose civil status has been verified.

  • Sharing a Great Love

Coming from a non-practicing Protestant family, Sister André, written in the masculine in homage to one of her three brothers whom she adored, was a governess in Paris before returning late to orders, within the company of Daughters of Charity.

Her memory intact to the end, she shared many memories, the dramatic loss of her twin Lydie at 18 months or her arrival in Paris. “I had only lived in the Gard, in a small town, ugly, I arrived in a radiant town. I was taking care of two children”. She worked officially until the end of the 1970s and then spent 30 years in an Ehpad in Savoie where she took care of residents sometimes younger than her, before arriving in the Toulon establishment which welcomes several nuns.

She always awaited with joy the visit of her grand-nephews and great-grand-nephews or that of the mayor of Toulon, Hubert Falco, whom she greatly appreciated, and who expressed “his immense sadness”especially since he hadn’t hesitated to get down on his knees to tie her shoelaces.

From her long time on earth, Sister André tirelessly advised “always to love without restriction, to love without expecting anything in return because when we love others, when we go to others, we are not afraid of the unknown”, explained David Tavella, who became his confidant. Because as she said, if there were to be two goals in life it would be to “to share a great love and not to compromise on its needs”.