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CULTURE

French nun Sister Andre claims title of world’s oldest person

A French nun who recently celebrated her 118th birthday with her traditional port-and-chocolate cocktail is now the world's oldest known person, following the death announced on Monday of a Japanese woman one year her senior.

French nun Sister Andre claims title of world's oldest person
Sister André, a 118-year-old French nun. (Photo by NICOLAS TUCAT / AFP)

Lucile Randon, known as Sister Andre, was born in southern France on February 11th, 1904, when World War I was still a decade away.

She now lives at a nursing home in Toulon along the Mediterranean coast, beginning every day with breakfast and then a morning mass, though her eyes can no longer see.

“She’s happy, she very much likes this attention,” said the home’s communications director David Tavella, adding that a short press conference would be held on Tuesday morning.

“But it’s just another step, because her real goal is to overtake Jeanne Calment,” a French woman who was reportedly 122 years-old when she died in 1997.

READ ALSO Why do the French live so long?

This year Sister Andre got a handwritten New Year’s greeting from President Emmanuel Macron, among the many letters and boxes of chocolates sent by well-wishers.

“I was always admired for my wisdom and intelligence, but now people could care less because I’m stubborn,” she jokingly told an AFP in an interview for her 118th tour around the sun.

“I thinking of getting out of this business but they won’t let me,” she said.

She worked as a governess in Paris — a period she once called the happiest time of her life — before taking her religious vows with the Daughters of Charity.

Previously the person deemed the world’s oldest by the International Database on Longevity (IDL) and Guinness World Records was Kane Tanaka, whose death in Japan on April 19th was announced on Monday.

With her death, “Sister Andre indeed becomes the oldest, and by far, since the next oldest is a Polish woman who is 115,” said Laurent Toussaint, a computer scientist and amateur tracker for the IDL as well as the French institute of demographic studies (INED).

Most centenarians are found in the world’s so-called blue zones, where people live longer than average, such as Okinawa in Japan or on the Italian island of Sardinia.

But France, while not considered a blue zone, nonetheless has 30,000 centenarians, according to statistics institute Insee, with around 40 of them 110 or older.

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PARIS

Paris street art legend Miss.Tic dies aged 66

Miss.Tic, whose provocative work began cropping up in the Montmartre neighbourhood of Paris in the mid-80s and made her a pioneer of French street art, died on Sunday aged 66, her family told AFP.

Paris street art legend Miss.Tic dies aged 66

Radhia Novat grew up in the narrow streets in the shadow of Sacre-Coeur basilica, the daughter of a Tunisian father and a mother from Normandy in western France, where she began stencilling sly and emancipatory slogans.

Her family said she had died of an unspecified illness.

Other French street artists paid tribute to her work.

On Twitter, street artist Christian Guemy, alias C215, hailed “one of the founders of stencil art”. The walls of the 13th arrondissement of Paris – where her images are a common sight – “will never be the same again”, he wrote.

Another colleague, “Jef Aerosol” said she had fought her final illness with courage, in a tribute posted on Instagram.

And France’s newly appointed Culture Minister, Rima Abdul Malak, saluted her “iconic, resolutely feminist” work.

Miss.Tic’s work often included clever wordplays — almost always lost in translation — and a heroine with flowing black hair who resembled the artist herself. The images became fixtures on walls across the capital.

Miss. Tic with some examples of her work. Photo by Bertrand GUAY / AFP

“I had a background in street theatre, and I liked this idea of street art,” Miss.Tic said in a 2011 interview.

“At first I thought, ‘I’m going to write poems’. And then, ‘we need images’ with these poems. I started with self-portraits and then turned towards other women,” she said.

Miss.Tic also drew the attention of law enforcement over complaints of defacing public property, leading to an arrest in 1997.

But her works came to be shown in galleries in France and abroad, with some acquired by the Paris modern art fund of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, according to her website.

And cinema buffs will recognise her work on the poster for Claude Chabrol’s 2007 film “La fille coupee en deux” (“A Girl Cut in Two”).

For a spell she was a favourite of fashion brands such as Kenzo and Louis Vuitton.

“So often it’s not understood that you can be young and beautiful and have things to say,” she told AFP in 2011.

“But it’s true that they sell us what they want with beautiful women. So I thought, I’m going to use these women to sell them poetry.”

Her funeral, the date of which is still to be announced, will be open to the public, said her family.

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