Abbé Pierre

Pierre, Abbé (äbāˈ pyĕr) [key], 1912–2007, French priest and social activist, b. Lyons as Henri Antoine Grouès. Renouncing a wealthy inheritance to become a Capuchin monk in 1931, he left the monastery and was ordained a priest in 1938. He served (1939–40) in the French army during World War II and was active (1942–44) in the Resistance, for which he was awarded the Legion of Honor; during the war, he adopted the nom de guerre Abbé Pierre. After the war he served (1945–1951) as a deputy in the national assembly and began his efforts to fight extreme poverty, which led to the founding (1969–71) of Emmaus International. He was renowned for his willingness to confront authorities in defense of the poor, returning his Legion of Honor to focus attention on their plight and famously making (1954) a radio plea for help for the homeless that galvanized France. He was later awarded the Legion of Honor for his human rights work.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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