Henri Dominique Pire

A brief biography.

Georges Charles Clement Ghislain Pire (February 10, 1910-January 30, 1969), was born in Dinant, Belgium, the first child of Georges and Berthe (Ravet) Pire.
In Dinant Georges Pire studied classics and philosophy at the Collège de Bellevue and at eighteen entered the Dominican monastery of La Sarte in Huy, Belgium, where he took the name Henri Dominique and said his final vows on September 23,1932. He continued his studies at the Collegi
um Angelicum in Rome, was ordained in 1934, and granted the doctorate in theology in 1936. After a year of study in the social sciences at the University of Louvain in Belgium, he returned to the monastery at Huy to teach sociology and moral philosophy.


In 1938 Pire began his long service of organizational work for the unfortunate by founding the Service d'entr'aide familiale [Mutual Family Aid] and Stations de plein air de Huy [Open Air Camps] for children. During and after World War II the stations were more than camps; they were missions that fed thousands of Belgian and French children. Father Pire himself during World War II was chaplain to the resistance movement, agent for the intelligence service, and participant in the underground escape system that returned downed Allied flyers to their own forces. He was awarded the Military Cross with Palms, the Resistance Medal with Crossed Swords, the War Medal, and the National Recognition Medal.

Constantly supplementing his duties as curé of La Sarte, Father Pire decided early in 1949 to study the refugee problem. He visited the camps for refugees in Austria, wrote a book, Du Rhin au Danube avec 60,000 D. P., and founded an organization, Aid to Displaced Persons.

There were three levels of action in Father Pire's work for the refugees. There was, first, his «sponsoring» movement in which interested people could «sponsor» a family of refugees, sending parcels and letters of encouragement; by 1960 there were some 18,000 sponsors.

On a second level there were his homes for the aged, four of them, all situated in Belgium: at Huy (1950), Esneux (1951), Aertslaer (1953), and Braine-le-Comte (1954).

On a third level: he constructed seven «European Villages», each for about 150 people: at Aix-la-Chapelle, Germany (1956); Bregenz, Austria (1956); Augsburg, Germany (1957); Berchem-Sainte-Agathe, Belgium, (the Fridtjof Nansen Village, 1958); Spiesen in the Saar (the Albert Schweitzer Village, 1958); Wuppertal, Germany (the Anne Frank Village, 1959); Euskirchen, Germany (1962).

In 1957, Aid to Displaced Persons,  with self-governing sections in ten European states. The funds spent by this organization on activities for the relief of refugees in 1958 and in later years were raised by a continuous crusade called Europe of the Heart, a crusade aimed at the hearts of all men regardless of religious, national, racial, and linguistic barriers.

After winning the Nobel Peace Prize, Father Pire pursued more aggressively a worldwide application of effort. Beginning June 5, 1959, the crusade was henceforth carried on by an official organization known as The Heart Open to the World.  He founded the University of Peace at Huy in 1960 and by 1965 had completed a major building, with dormitory space for fifty, a large conference room and several small ones, kitchen and dining facilities.


 After a Pakistan visit in 1960, Father Pire inaugurated a new venture that would combine local self-help with private international aid in order to increase food production, improve medical services, and develop educational and recreational programs. The first of these ventures, running from 1962 to 1967, was at Gohira in East Pakistan; the second, begun in 1969, is a six-year program at Kalakkad, near the southern point of the Indian land mass. Father Pire called these programs Islands of Peace.

Throughout his thirty-two years of work for peace and human dignity, Henri Dominique Pire lived simply in the monastery at Huy. 

He died at Louvain Roman Catholic Hospital on January 30, 1969, of complications following surgery.





Action of Henri Dominique Pire, O.P. for support to the European Villages: Europe of the heart.

Belgium 1959, Mi 1143, Sc B638.



Ten years of the Nobel Peace Prize for Henri Dominique Pire, O.P.


Belgium 1969. Postmark Koksijde (Coxyde) 05.04.1969,
dove of peace. 







Shaking hands. Ten years of the Nobel Peace Prize for
Henri Dominique Pire, O.P.


Belgium 1969. Postmark Koksijde (Coxyde) 06.04.1969.

                                                               Shake hands.






Henri Dominique Pire, O.P. on the Peace-Island in Pakistan. 20th Anniversary of his movement
Heart open to the world.


Belgium 1978, Mi 1972, Sc B975.

Postmark 1978, Dinant 02.12.1978.

Dinant: birth town of Pire; portrait and 20th jubilee of his
Nobel Peace Prize.







Portrait of Henri Dominique Pire, O.P.


Belgium 1978. Postmark Ben-Ahin, 02.12.1978.







Postmark to support the action for the Peace-Islands
of Henri Dominique
Pire. O.P.



 Belgium 1986. Postmark Antwerp 08.01.1986.





Postmark  to support the action for the Peace-Islands
of Henri Dominique Pire, O.P.



Belgium 1991. Postmark Brussels 20.11.1991.





Portrait of Henri-Dominique Pire, O.P.                     
winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, 1958.


Zambia 2002, Mi 1354, Sc 965e.









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