Likely the second oldest person in the world, Sister André credits red wine as one of her secrets to longevity.

By Mike Pomranz
February 16, 2021
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Credit: NICOLAS TUCAT / CONTRIBUTOR/GETTY IMAGES

Europe's oldest known living person, and possibly the second oldest person in the world, has survived COVID-19—and yesterday, she celebrated her 117th birthday in a very European manner… downing plenty of Champagne, red wine, and port. Just add it to your list of counterintuitive longevity tips—alongside bacon, whiskey, and eggs and brandy.

Sister André was born Lucile Randon in 1904. The French nun currently resides at the Ste. Catherine Laboure nursing home in Toulon, and as the New York Times reports, things became a bit worrisome last month when the coronavirus began infecting its residents: 81 of the 88 people living in the home contracted the illness, including Sister André, and 11 died. However, the now 117-year-old apparently only had mild symptoms and pulled through, making her birthday that much more celebratory.

"She kept telling me, 'I'm not afraid of Covid because I'm not afraid of dying, so give my vaccine doses to those who need them,'" David Tavella, the communications manager Ste. Catherine Laboure, told the Times.

On Thursday, her birthday lunch reportedly started with foie gras (because you're never too old to still be French) paired with a bit of port. Then, the main was capon with fragrant mushrooms. "All of it washed down with red wine, because she drinks red wine," Tavella told the Associated Press. "It's one of her secrets of longevity." Finally, Sister André took a nap, followed by dessert: baked Alaska and a flute of Champagne.

"It made me very, very, very, very happy," she said after of celebration. "Because I met all those I love and I thank the heavens for giving them to me. I thank God for the trouble they went to."

As for next year, well, Tavella said Sister André doesn't have any big plans for the big 1-1-8. "I won't be here next year," he quoted her as saying. He then added, "But she has been saying that for 10 years."

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