Monday, 16 August 2010

Celebration of an Arrival and a Departure

On 20th August 1940 a young Swiss man arrived in Burgundy on his bike. He came to help those persecuted by the Nazis and he chose a little village near the demarcation line, just inside “Free” France with its puppet regime in Vichy. The village was Taizé and the man Roger Schutz. Not such an amazing event at the time, but it was the start of something very big. Roger stayed helping Jews and Resistance fighters until the Nazis collapsed the Vichy government and occupied the whole of France. Roger then became a target himself and he was advised to leave. He returned after the war with some friends to set up a community dedicated to help those who had suffered during the war, particularly the young people. His sister joined him, to run the children’s house. Roger was a deeply religious young man as were his friends and their vision was to create an monastic order outside of any church. This order was founded officially on Easter day 1949.

The Taizé community was born. Frère Roger led the community from its beginnings of a small group of seven brothers to over 100 brothers, until he was murdered in the Church of Reconciliation itself on 16th August 2005.

Saturday evening there was a celebration of the 70 years since Frère Roger first arrived on the hill and a commemoration of 5 years since his death.

The service was held in the open in a meadow on the edge of Taizé with the buildings belonging to the community and the Romanesque church hung with icons. An area similar to the “garden” inside the community’s church was created for the monks to be together and the service began at a quarter to 8 by singing “The Lord is my Shepherd” in Filipino, courtesy of the Jesuit Music Ministry there. The service followed the usual lines of songs and silence but with Frère Alois also addressing the congregation of about 5,000 and telling them of Frère Roger, his life, his work and the influence he had had on the Christian movement throughout the world.

A special service for a special man.

Our website La Tuilerie.

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