She has survived the horrors of two world wars, a civil war and two global pandemics.
Now US-born Maria Branyas Morera has been named the world’s oldest person by Guinness World Records (GWR), following the death of French nun Sister André earlier this month aged 118.
Morera has spent the last 22 years in a nursing home in Catalonia, Spain, but she was born almost 116 years ago thousands of miles away in San Francisco.
Her birth on March 4, 1907 came less than four years after the Wright Brothers launched the first ever power driven flight and two years before construction had even begun on the ill-fated Titanic.
Despite being just weeks away from her 116th birthday, Morera even uses Twitter – with a little help from her daughter – to communicate with her thousands of followers.
“I am old, very old, but not an idiot,” her Twitter bio reads.
Morera was born a year after her parents emigrated to the US. Eight years later, the family moved back but the journey proved to be a treacherous one.
Morera’s father died of pulmonary tuberculosis toward the end of the transatlantic voyage, while she permanently lost her hearing in one ear after a fall, according to GWR.
The family arrived in Barcelona during World War I and Morera’s life has also spanned the Spanish Civil War and World War II.
She is believed to be among the oldest people to have recovered from Covid-19, having tested positive for the virus in May 2020.
In a series of tweets in Catalan on Saturday, Morera, who has three children, 11 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren, said she was “surprised and grateful” for the interest generated by her new status but that the last few days had been “stressful” and she would not be giving any more interviews.
“I need peace and tranquility,” she tweeted. “I have lived in the Tura Residence for 22 years and I do not want the day-to-day life of the residents or the staff who take care of us to change.”
When news of Morera’s record first emerged, the Residència Santa María del Tura issued a statement to GWR saying: “To celebrate this very special event we will have a small celebration behind closed doors in the residence in the coming days.”
The title of the oldest person ever recorded belongs to Jeanne Louise Calment. Born on February 21, 1875, her life spanned 122 years and 164 days, according to GWR.