Who Is the Oldest Living Person? And the Oldest to Ever Live?

By: Yara Simón  | 
Lucile Randon
Lucile Randon, aka Sister André, held the title of the world's oldest living person through 2022. NICOLAS TUCAT/AFP via Getty Images

They say getting older is a privilege, and for the oldest living person, this is certainly true. At 116 years old, María Branyas Morera has seen a vast transformation in her lifetime, including countless technological advancements.

Read on to learn more about Branyas Morera and other people who have officially (and unofficially) held the title of world's oldest person.


Who Is María Branyas Morera?

In January 2023, at 115 years old, Guinness World Records dubbed María Branya Morera the "oldest person living." She is a supercentenarian born on March 4, 1907, in San Francisco, California. Her parents immigrated from Spain to the United States one year before her birth. And when she was 8, the family moved to Catalonia.

Branyas Morera, who credits her long life to luck and genetics, married Dr. Joan Moret in 1931. They had three children, 11 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.


One of her children helps her send out messages on X (formerly Twitter) about life. At the start of 2023, she wrote, "Life is not eternal for anyone... At my age, a new year is a gift, a humble celebration, a new adventure, a beautiful journey, a moment of happiness. Let's enjoy life together."

With a life filled with happy experiences, there also comes some tragedy. Her father died on the way from the United States to Spain. She lived through two world wars and the Spanish Civil War, the latter of which affected her deeply. She also tested positive for COVID-19 shortly after her 113th birthday but recovered in just a few days.

Branyas Morera currently resides in a nursing home, where she has lived for the last 22 years.

Branya Morera's Predecessor

Before Branya Morera became the oldest-known living person, Lucile Randon held that title. Randon, who was also known as Sister André, died in 2023 at 118. During World War II, she worked as a teacher and governess. Later in life, after working with orphans and elderly people, she became a nun, which made her the oldest living nun at one point.


Other Record-holding Supercentenarians

Tracking the oldest living person started in the 1950s. Here are a few who have held the title:

  • Kane Tanaka: Before French nun Lucile Randon, there was Kane Tanaka, a Japanese woman born in 1903. She lived to the age of 119.
  • Chiyo Miyako: Hailing from Wakayama, Japan, Miyako previously held the title. She died at 117 years old in 2018.
  • Susannah Mushatt Jones: Born in 1899, Jones, who credited sleep for her longevity, held the title from June 2015 to May 2016.
  • Gertrude Weaver: Weaver, born in 1898, only held the title for five days before her death in 2015.


World's Oldest Person Ever

Jeanne Calment
Jeanne Calment is the oldest person to have ever lived. She lived 122 years and 164 days. GEORGES GOBET/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Jeanne Calment, a French woman, continues to hold the title of the oldest living person ever. According to Guinness, "The greatest fully authenticated age to which any human has ever lived is 122 days 164 days by Jeanne Louise Calment."

Born before the construction of the Eiffel Tower, Calment lived a full life. She was in good health most of her life and roller skated, played tennis and swam. She also took up fencing in her 80s. She married Fernand Nicolas Calment and had a daughter. Her husband, daughter and grandson all died before her. She died in southern France in 1997.


Some have expressed doubt that Calment was as old as she said. Geriatrician Valery Novoselov said she didn't possess the right physical characteristics of someone her age. "In the picture of 110-year-old Jeanne, I see a strong lady a little younger than 90," he said.

Enlisting the help of mathematician Nikolay Zak, Novoselov wanted to prove she was a fraud. Zak learned that there were some discrepancies (her height didn't change as she got older, for one) and hypothesized that the woman presenting herself as Jeanne was actually her daughter, Yvonne.

But people have found holes in his claims as well.


Other Claims to the Title

The Guinness World Records recognizes the official oldest living person, but every once in a while, there are reports of people who might be older than those who hold the official title. For example, in 2013, the Associated Press reported that Bolivian Carmelo Flores Laura could have held the record. However, Bolivia didn't have birth certificates at the time of Flores Laura's birth.

While other outlets questioned the validity of these claims, having original paperwork can pose a hurdle. According to Guinness, "More than 50% of [all] submissions are rejected because the evidence is insufficient."


In 2017, The Guardian reported that Celino Villaneuva Jaramillo was reportedly born "four years before the current Guinness-listed oldest person." While he had a Chilean ID card that listed his birth as 1896, a fire destroyed his birth certificate decades before.

Or it could simply be that some people do not want the title. Publications reported in 2018 that a then-117-year-old Julia Flores Colque could claim the title, but Flores Colque had never heard of Guinness and she had no interest in the recognition.