The world's oldest person, Italy's Emma Morano has passed away. At 117 years and 137 days old, she was the fifth oldest verified person to have ever lived. She was also the oldest Italian ever, as the second oldest Marie Josephine Gaudette, is currently 115 years and 23 days old. Morano was also the last known person born in the 1800s and in a way her death is the end of that era of human history.

Emma Morano's life

Emma Morano was born on November 29, 1899, in Civiasco, Italy. When she was a child, her family moved to the Ossola since her father got a new job.

However, the city's climate was so unhealthy that a doctor advised that they move to Verbania where she would live for the rest of her life.

In 1926 she got married, but it was an unhappy and even abusive relationship. In 1937 she had her only child, but he tragically died at six months old. This event would finally spur her to separate from her husband a year later, although they never officially divorced. Morano spent her working life in a jute factory until 1954, when she switched jobs to work in the kitchen of Collegio Santa Maria boarding school. In 1974 she retired at age 75, starting what would be a very long retirement.

As her age increased, Morano was given honors she may not have seen otherwise.

In December 2011, following her 112th birthday, she was awarded the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic by Italy's President Giorgio Napolitano. According to The Telegraph, for her 116th birthday she received a signed parchment of blessing from Pope Francis, congratulating her on her long life.

Perspective on Emma's life

During her life, Emma Mornao saw the Kingdom of Italy (1861-1946) fall and lose its monarchy.

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She saw the rise and fall of Benito Mussolini (1883-1945) and the fascist party. She lived through her country's involvement in World War I (1914-18) and World War II (1939-45). She was alive to see manned flight (1903), the first non-stop transatlantic flight (1919), the first man in space (1961), man landing on the moon (1969) and the world wide web (1989).

The oldest Americans

With all this talk about old age, who are the oldest known Americans from the past and present? The oldest American was also the second oldest verified person to ever live, as Sarah Knauss (1880-1999) was 119 years and 97 days old. The oldest known American male Christian Mortensen (1882-1998) was 115 years and 252 days old.

The current oldest living person in America is Delphine Gibson, who is 113 years and 243 days old. She is currently the 12th oldest verified living person. The oldest American male is Clarence Matthews, who is 110 years and 351 days old. He is currently the 93rd oldest verified living person.