The Guinness World Records Held By Sister André, The World's Oldest Person

Guinness World Records' oldest living person, Sister André of France, died on Tuesday, January 17, 2023, at the age of 118, according to CNN. Born Lucile Randon in 1904, Sister André had only just recently taken the title of the world's oldest person from Kane Tanaka, a Japanese woman certified to be 119 years old when she died in 2022. As well as the world's oldest person, Sister André lived long enough to become the world's oldest female, according to the Guinness World Records website. 

Two Guinness World Records in one lifetime would be enough for most people, but as Guinness elsewhere notes, Sister André's long life earned her one further record-setting distinction. Sister André's death was announced in a Twitter statement from the mayor of the French town Toulon where she lived. According to CNN, the tweet read: "[I]t is with immense sadness and emotion that I learnt tonight of the passing of the world's oldest person." A representative of Sister André also wrote in a statement, "[I]t was her desire to join her beloved brother. For her, it is freedom."

Sister André lived through two world wars and two pandemics

As The New York Times writes, in her long life, Sister André survived two world wars and two flu pandemics: the COVID-19 pandemic and the Spanish flu outbreak in 1918. Though not tracked by Guinness, Sister André is also believed to be the oldest person to survive a COVID-19 infection, based on BBC News reporting. In her lifetime, 18 French Presidents and 10 popes came and went. She enjoyed a daily serving of wine and chocolate until the end.

In a statement announcing the nun's death, Guinness World Records editor Craig Glenday pointed out (via Guinness World Records) that when Sister André was born, French painter Paul Cézanne was active and Teddy Roosevelt was in the White House. "It's difficult to fathom that someone born before the patenting of plastic, zips or even bras was alive well into the 21st century, and robust enough to beat COVID-19," Glenday's statement read. As it stands, Sister André is the fourth oldest person to have ever lived.

Sister André was also the world's oldest nun

The third Guinness-certified world record Sister André held at the time of her death was the world's oldest nun, according to the Guinness World Records website. Born Lucile Randon, she joined her order and took the name Sister André in 1944 at the age of 26, as Guinness writes. A statement from French President Emmanuel Macron called Sister André a French "symbol of continuity." Also according to NYT, Toulon's mayor, where Sister André lived, ​Hubert Falco said, "Sister André was above all a profoundly good and endearing woman, dedicated to others." 

The oldest person ever, also French, is Jeanne Calment, born in 1875. Calment was 122 years old when she died in 1997, according to Guinness. That record has since been called into question, however (via CNN). Guinness World Records certifies the world's oldest people with the help of the Gerontology Research Group, as The New York Times writes. With Sister André now gone, the oldest woman Maria Branyas Morera, an American-born woman who, at 115 years old as of this writing, lives in Spain.