Ms. Emma Martina Luigia Morano of Vercelli, Italy was born 117 years year ago, on 29 November 1899. To celebrate her birthday, Emma Morano did what many people do: She blew out candles, received gifts and basked in the attention of well-wishers.
Guinness World Records confirmed Emma as the Oldest person living in May, after reviewing research conducted by the Gerontology Research Group.
She is believed to be the last person living who was born in the 19th century.
But because Ms. Emma Morano turned 117 on Tuesday, making her the oldest person in the world and the only living person who was born in the 1800s, her birthday was not exactly a private affair.
Birthday greetings came by way of elementary school children who sent poster-size cards; sundry town officials; and President Sergio Mattarella, who wished her “serenity and good health” on behalf of all Italians.
“She’s very, very happy,” said her niece Maria Antonietta Sala, whose mother, Angela — Emma’s sister — died at 102.
Raised in Vercelli – the oldest of eight siblings – Emma later moved to Verbania on the shores of Lake Maggiore, Italy where she remained for the majority of her life.
Emma followed the same extraordinary diet for around 90 years – three eggs per day (two raw, one cooked), fresh Italian pasta and a dish of raw meat.
However, she now limits herself to two eggs a day and a few biscuits.
Emma was engaged to a man who was called to the front during the First World War. Devastatingly, she never saw him again and assumed he had died.
She married someone else in 1926 and later gave birth to a child who tragically passed away at only 6 months old.
This marriage was abusive. Emma told La Stampa in 2011 that her husband had blackmailed her into getting married, threatening to kill her.
Following the terrible loss of her son in 1938 she took the brave decision to leave her husband and never remarried.
Emma’s incredible story of courage and longevity has since been the inspiration of a musical show performed in her Italian hometown Verbania.