By JOHN LEICESTER and JEFFREY SCHAEFFER Associated Press
PARIS (AP) – Question: How to cram enough candles on a birthday cake for one of the oldest COVID-19 survivors in the world? Answer: With 117 candles, you cannot.
A French nun who is said to be the second oldest person in the world celebrated her 117th birthday on Thursday in style, with multiple treats and good wishes, cards and flowers to celebrate her exceptional longevity through two world wars and a recent infection with coronavirus.
Sister André also received a mass in her honor and a feast with champagne, red wine and port. Then came a nap followed by more festivities, including a baked Alaska high tea, her favorite dessert.
“It made me very, very, very, very happy,” the birthday girl said. “Because I have met everyone I love and thank Heaven for giving them to me. I thank God for the trouble they went to.
Sister André’s big day unfolded with a video call in the morning with her great-great-great-great-grand-nephews, followed by a mass in her honor led by the local Catholic bishop, said David Tavella, the communications manager of the nursing home in the south of the French city of Toulon, where the nun lives.
His birthday feast included a starter of foie gras, followed by a scented mushroom capon. “All this washed down with red wine, because she drinks red wine. It’s one of his longevity secrets, ”Tavella told The Associated Press. There was also Port and Champagne “because 117 years must be toasted,” he said.
She skipped the dessert because she was tired, but received it later after a nap – with three candles and the numbers 117 on top.
Wrapping 117 candles would have been impossible.
“We stopped trying a long time ago,” Tavella said. “Even if we made big cakes, I’m not sure she would have enough breath to blow them all. You would need a fire extinguisher.
Sister André’s birth name is Lucile Randon. The Gerontology Research Group, which validates details of those believed to be 110 or older, classifies it as the second oldest known living person in the world, behind only 118-year-old woman in Japan, Kane Tanaka.
Tavella told French media earlier this week that Sister André tested positive for the coronavirus in mid-January, but had so few symptoms that she didn’t even realize she was infected. Its survival made headlines in France and beyond.
“When the whole world suddenly started talking about this story, I understood that Sister André was a bit like an Olympic flame on a world tour that people want to catch, because we all need a little bit of hope for now. ”Said Tavella.
When Tavella spoke to her on Thursday about celebrating her next birthday in 2022, she replied, “I won’t be here next year,” he quoted, adding, “But she’s been saying it for 10 years. “
By strange coincidence, Tavella celebrated his 43rd birthday on Thursday.
“We often joke that she and I were born on the same day,” he said. “I never tell myself that she’s 117 because she’s so easy to talk to, no matter what her age. It’s only when she talks about World War I as if she had lived it that I realize: “Yes, she did!” “
Leicester reported from Pecq, France