Europe’s oldest person, French nun Sister Andre, celebrated her 117th birthday on Thursday with a cake and prayer after shrugging off the coronavirus just weeks earlier.
Sister Andre, who lived through the Spanish flu more than a century ago, said the day had brought her immense joy.
“I met all those that I loved and thanked G-d for giving them to me,” said Lucile Randon, who took the name of Sister Andre when she joined a Catholic charitable order in 1944.
Sister Andre sat serenely in her wheelchair, her hands clasped tight, as she received virtual birthday greetings from officials, family, and prayers from her fellow nuns and priests.
COVID-19 restrictions meant family were unable to Sister Andre. President Emmanuel Macron’s office were among the callers who wished her well.
Born on Feb. 11, 1904, Sister Andre has witnessed two global pandemics. She was a young teenager when the Spanish flu struck, infecting an estimated one third of the world’s population between 1918 and 1920.
Her brother died, one of at least 50 million lives lost during that pandemic, but she escaped infection.
Sister Andre tested positive for coronavirus on Jan. 16 but displayed no symptoms.
She celebrated her birthday with cake and red wine and a small virtual party with her great-nieces and nephews.
Sister Andre is the world’s second-oldest living person according to the Gerontology Research Group. The oldest is Japan’s Kane Tanaka, who is 118.