Jean Vanier, the renowned founder of L’Arche, whom many considered a living saint, has died at the age of 90.
It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Jean Vanier, our founder. Jean died on the 7 May in the Maison Médicale Jeanne Garnier in Paris.
“Jean has left an extraordinary legacy,” said L’Arche International Leader Stephan Posner. “His Community of Trosly, the Communities of L’Arche, Faith and Light, many other movements, and countless thousands of people have cherished his words and benefited from his vision.”
Vanier founded L’Arche in 1964 in response to the treatment that people with learning disabilities faced in institutions. There are now more than 150 L’Arche communities in 38 countries around the world, where more than ten thousand people with and without learning disabilities create places of welcome and celebration, sharing in life together.
Tributes have come in from around the world. The Archbishop of Canterbury wrote on Facebook:
His love for Christ overflowed into every relationship with abundant grace. To meet him was to love him, to be loved — and in turn to love all others he loved. Such a luminous goodness was combined with humour, wisdom and practicality. His goodness was also combined with learning; his lyrical commentary on St John’s Gospel is the most beautiful piece of writing.
I had the privilege of spending time with him on several occasions, and always came away with a sense that here was someone whose whole way of being spoke of the goodness of God.
In 2016, Jean led the Primates of the Anglican Communion in a time of prayer and reflection at Canterbury Cathedral. At the end of it, he invited us to wash each other’s feet. It was a moving experience for each of us — and a powerful reminder of the example that every disciple has been set by Jesus. He did the same at the 2008 Lambeth Conference. …
It is fitting that one who lived so thoroughly with and for others, and who helped so many find new life, should come face to face with Christ in Eastertide. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.
Many readers of the UK newspaper The Guardian were surprised to read an obituary of him that initially avoided Vanier’s Christian faith and writing. But the majority of tributes have mentioned his deep faith.
- John Allen Jr, “With the death of Jean Vanier, Catholicism loses a living saint,” Crux Now
- Martin Basher, “Jean Vanier: Founder of L’Arche Dies Aged 90,” BBC
- Katharine Q. Seelye, “Jean Vanier, Savior of People on the Margins, Dies at 90,” New York Times
- Andy Walton, “Jean Vanier — Prophet for Our Times,” Theos