In 1940, a young Swiss Reformed pastor named Roger Schutz searched the Burgundy area of France for a place where he could build a community of reconciliation and be identified with wartime suffering. Settling in the tiny village of Taizé, Roger began aiding Jewish people cross the border into Switzerland from the occupied zone of France. After the war, several other men joined Roger Schutz as they began their austere simple life as a “parable of communion.” On Palm Sunday of 1948, seven bothers took the classic monastic vows. All were Protestant. From the very beginning, Roger Schutz, now known as Brother Roger, was passionately devoted to reconciliation among Christians. In the early 1950s, key Protestant bishops and Roman Catholic bishops met at Taizé in the first meeting of its kind held since the Reformation. Pope John XXIII befriended the community and affectionately named it, “The Little Springtime.” In the beginning, the community worshipped in a tiny chapel in the village built by the Cluniac monks. During the 1960′s, young people began to go to Taizé in larger numbers in search of the meaning of life. Visitors began to come to Taizé, and in 1962, a large church was built by young Germans as an expression of their sorrow over the wartime suffering. In 1969, a Roman Catholic became a brother of Taizé, making it a unique ecumenical expression of monasticism.
Today there are 100 brothers of Taizé representing every denomination and every race and culture. The church of Taizé has been expanded many times to meet the needs of the thousands of young people who come to Taizé seeking an encounter with Christ. Brother Roger’s dream of Christian unity has not been fulfilled, and the community has turned its attention not only to reconciliation among Christians but reconciliation of all of the world’s people. They now call their mission a “Pilgrimage of Trust.” There are brothers of Taizé that live on every continent, and they live among the poor and downtrodden. Since the collapse of communism, literally thousands of young people come to Taizé from Eastern Europe. Between Christmas and New Year, the community holds a Pilgrimage of Trust in a European capitol. In a recent meeting in Paris, 110,000 young people were in attendance.
The Taizé community is a microcosm of the Christian world and stands as a living example of the gospel of Christ. Their unique style of music and worship bridges denominational and cultural barriers.