THE ecumenical community of Taizé, in France, is holding a large-scale youth gathering to celebrate its 75th anniversary this month, and to mark ten years since the murder of its founder, Brother Roger.
The gathering "for new solidarity" began on Sunday with themed workshops, exhibitions, and talks; it will continue to a service of remembrance and thanksgiving on 16 August, exactly ten years after Brother Roger was murdered. The occasion will also mark 100 years since his birth.
Brother Roger, born Roger Schütz, founded Taizé in Burgundy in 1940 as a safe-house for Christian and Jewish refugees during the Second World War. After four years of exile to escape Nazi persecution, he returned to Taizé to establish a monastic order, open to all Christians.
The community has since become a pilgrimage destination, and, today, hosts youth movements, outreach initiatives, and week-long gatherings of prayer, talks, and reflection for young adults.
On 16 August 2005, Brother Roger was stabbed to death during the evening service by a young Romanian woman, Luminița Ruxandra Solcan, who was later deemed to be mentally ill.
On Sunday, at 4 p.m., the community is expecting more than 6000 people to attend to celebrate his memory, including about 100 church leaders from all denominations, representatives from other faiths, and thousands of young people from across the world.
The Prior of Taizé, Brother Alois, marked the start of the occasion in an address for young people, published on the community website. He wrote: "Humanity is going through a difficult time of transition . . .
"Across the earth, new calamities, new forms of solitude . . . displaced populations, ecological catastrophes, inequalities, unemployment, different forms of violence — call for new expressions of solidarity. They represent a common challenge for believers of different religions as well as for non-believers.
"From Taizé, we greet all those who, across the world, have taken the risk of hope. They are looking forward to a globalization of solidarity, and they are already living it. With them, we want to take a further step on this road together."
Taizé is also organising a week-long international symposium from 30 August for young theologians, to reflect on Brother Roger’s contribution to Christian thought.
Brother Roger, who devoted his life to reconciling the Churches and encouraging spiritual curiosity in young people, is quoted on Taizé’s website: "Since my youth, I think that I have never lost the intuition that community life could be a sign that God is love, and love alone.
Gradually the conviction took shape in me that it was essential to create a community with men determined to give their whole life, and who would always try to understand one another and be reconciled."
Bien joué, Taizé - Leader comment