Abbé Pierre's "holy anger" drove him to fight for the rights of those sans-toit, without a roof over their heads. Take a moment to read about this great Frenchman, and thank you for sharing this post with a friend.
le (la) sans-abri (sahns-ahbree) noun, masculine & feminine
: homeless person
"Sans-abri" means, literally, "without shelter"; les sans-abri = the homeless.
=> SDF (Sans Domicile Fixe) is also a term used for the homeless. Les SDF = The homeless
A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse
(This story is a re-run, in preparation for the next post...)
Day before yesterday, I watched and listened as the French mourned the death of their favorite personnage: l'Abbé Pierre, voted third greatest Frenchman after Charles de Gaulle and Louis Pasteur.
"Abbot Peter" was the short priest with the long beard, the white-haired legend in the black beret, the former Resistance fighter in a dark cape who now clutched a bleached wood cane.
Like his appearance, Abbé Pierre, who once broke his vow of chastity, yielding to the force of desire, was a man of contrasts. Humble and soft-spoken, he was driven by a "holy anger" and known for his passionate outbursts when speaking for the homeless. He once told Jean-Marie Le Pen to "shut up!" (Ta gueule!) after the president of the National Front implied that all of France's ills stemmed from immigration.
His beliefs were sometimes unorthodox, as he felt that priests should be able to marry, that gays should be able to adopt, and that women should be able to be ordained. Above all, Abbé Pierre believed in the homeless and their unspeakable living conditions; caring for the sans-abri* would be his life's mission.
While [ex] President Chirac was said to be bouleversé* by Abbé Pierre's death, it was the thoughtful words of a homeless man that touched me the most as I listened to the midday news: "Sa mort, ça me fait plus mal que la morsure du froid," his death, it hurts me more than frostbite."
Frostbite and hunger were on Abbé Pierre's agenda, made famous in 1954 when he stole into a radio station and demanded the microphone. It was a murderous winter for the homeless in Paris and an old woman had just been found frozen to death on the Boulevard de Sebastopol, an eviction notice still in her hand. Reaction to Abbé Pierre's outcry was overwhelming and the French, both rich and poor, responded with blankets, coats, heaters and money as well as with rice, pasta, bread, chocolate and canned food. Charlie Chaplin (exiled in Paris at the time and made famous for his character the "Little Tramp") handed over many thousands of francs, with the explanation "the money belongs to the vagabond I portrayed".
It was in 1949 that Abbé Pierre founded the Emmaus Society with the idea to "travailler avec des pauvres pour des pauvres" to work with the poor for the poor. The poor that were to become his followers were also known as the "Ragpickers" by reason of the junk that they collected, organized and now sold in open-to-the-public warehouses throughout France. For this, Abbé Pierre was sometimes referred to as the "ragpickers' saint".
Activist for the poor for more than five decades, at 5:25 a.m. on January 22nd, at the age of 94, Abbe Pierre's light went out, when he died in Paris after being hospitalized for a lung infection. The feisty yet humble Frenchman had requested that the following words be written on his tomb:
"Il a essayé d'aimer." ("He Tried to Love.")
To respond to this story or to comment on this edition, click here.
Waiting for a hot meal in Paris. The sign says "Help us if you can." To comment, click here.
les sans-abri (mf) = the homeless
boulversé(e) = deeply upset
THE RACKPICKERS OF EMMAUS
The Abbé Pierre has tackled in France the problems of homeless people in a new way. First he bought a house and sheltered a few down-and-out men. Then he organized his ragpickers, combed the dust-bins and the dumps, and then the sewers, and sold the salvage. He bought land, put up huts; bought more land, till he had housed 180 families; the scheme is growing daily. He has now achieved a responsible community of workers in which the poor help the poor. This is not a sociological blueprint but a gripping human story of the lives he has saved.
Listen to my daughter, Jackie, pronounce today's word and read the French headlines -- from the journal "l'Orient Le Jour" Download wav or Download mp3:
La mort de l'abbé Pierre, apôtre des sans-abri, bouleverse la France. The death of Abbot Pierre, apostle of the homeless, shatters France
Thanks for visiting our sponsors!
Provence & French Alps Tours - Two regions of France in one affordable tour. Majestic mountains, Provence colors. Wine tastings, Michelin Star cuisine.
Provence Dreamin'? Maison des Pelerins, Sablet. A Vacation Rental Dream in the heart of the Côte du Rhone.
A sky full of starlings or étourneaux. To comment, click here.
SHARE IT - LIKE IT
Thank you very much for reading this post. When you share it with a student or teacher or friend, via the share buttons below, you help to get the word out about my French language journal. Merci bien!
Thank you so much for reading these stories and for the time you've set aside to learn a French word or two. If you feel you have learned more than a little vocabulary, here, and would like to reward my efforts please know that a one-time contribution is not only a great support, but it is vivement apprécié. Simply use the quick links below (they'll take you to PayPal). Merci beaucoup!