Maria Branyas Morera was born in San Francisco, California, USA on 4 March 1907 to parents Josep Branyas Julià (born 1877) and Teresa Morera Laqué (born 1880). Her parents married on 14 January 1901. Her siblings were Josep (born 1902), Teresa (born 1905) and William (born 1913). In 1903, her father Josep, travels to Mexico, via Veracruz state, to continue an uncle’s business.
On 19 May 1904, her father comes back to Veracruz (Mexico) to wait for the arrival of the ship “SS Montserrat” and pick up his wife Teresa Morera and his little son Josep Branyas. Her family emigrated to San Francisco, USA, on 5 October 1906. They later traveled to New Orleans, and from there they departed to Olot, Catalonia, Spain in May 1915. While emigrating to Spain aboard the Catalania, Branyas Morera injured her eardrum in a fall, resulting in her permanently losing hearing in one ear. Towards the end of the voyage, Branyas Morera’s father, Joseph Branyas Julià, died from pulmonary tuberculosis at the age of 37, leaving Branyas Morera’s mother to raise the family of five on her own. She married Joan Moret Roura on 16 July 1931 and had three children; August (1932), Teresa (1933) and Rosa (1944).
On 18 July 1936, when the Spanish Civil War breaks out, her husband Joan Moret Roura flees to France and re-enters Spain through San Sebastian, where he had some friends who helped him. He is assigned as a military doctor to Trujillo, Extremadura. After a while, Maria Branyas Morera and their two children, August and Teresa, moved there. In 1939, at the end of the Civil War, the entire family returned to Catalonia and settled on Minali Street, 12, in Girona.
In November 2000, when she was 93, Branyas Morera moved into a care home in Olot. At the age of 110, she reportedly still read the newspaper every day. As of August 2019, she had 11 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.
Branyas Morera is deaf in one ear, and partially deaf in the other, with precautions taken at her nursing home. This made communication difficult, but using a voice-to-text device, her relatives are able to communicate fluently.
In April 2020, at the age of 113, Branyas Morera tested positive for COVID-19, but successfully recovered. She was the oldest recorded survivor of the disease until Lucile Randon pf France, then 116, recovered in 2021. In a subsequent interview with the Observer, Branyas Morera called for a revolution in treatment of the elderly, saying “This pandemic has revealed that older people are the forgotten ones of our society. They fought their whole lives, sacrificed time and their dreams for today’s quality of life. They didn’t deserve to leave the world in this way.”
In January 2021, Branyas Morera received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, making her one of the oldest validated supercentenarians to get vaccinated.