Dominique Pire

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Dominique Pire
Georges Pire 1958.jpg
Georges Charles Clement Ghislain Pire

(1910-02-10)February 10, 1910
DiedJanuary 30, 1969(1969-01-30) (aged 58)
Leuven, Belgium
Alma mater Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) (1934–1936), Catholic University of Leuven (1936–1937)
Parent(s)Georges Pire & Berthe Ravet

Dominique Pire (full name: Georges Charles Clement Ghislain Pire; February 10, 1910 – January 30, 1969) was a Belgian Dominican friar whose work helping refugees in post-World War II Europe saw him receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 1958. On Dec. 11, 1958 Pire delivered his Nobel Lecture entitled "Brotherly Love: Foundation of Peace". [1]

Belgium Federal constitutional monarchy in Western Europe

Belgium, officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a sovereign state in Western Europe. It is bordered by the Netherlands to the north, Germany to the east, Luxembourg to the southeast, France to the southwest, and the North Sea to the northwest. It covers an area of 30,688 km2 (11,849 sq mi) and has a population of more than 11.4 million. The capital and largest city is Brussels; other major cities are Antwerp, Ghent, Charleroi and Liège.

Friar member of a mendicant religious order in Catholic Christianity

A friar is a brother member of one of the mendicant orders founded in the twelfth or thirteenth century; the term distinguishes the mendicants' itinerant apostolic character, exercised broadly under the jurisdiction of a superior general, from the older monastic orders' allegiance to a single monastery formalized by their vow of stability. The most significant orders of friars are the Dominicans, Franciscans, Augustinians and Carmelites.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 70 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.


Early biography

Pire was born in Dinant, Belgium. He was the eldest child of four born to Georges Pire, Sr., a civic official, and Berthe (Ravet) Pire. [2]

Dinant Municipality in French Community, Belgium

Dinant is a Walloon city and municipality located on the River Meuse, in the Belgian province of Namur. It lies 90 kilometres (56 mi) south-east of Brussels, 30 kilometres (19 mi) south-east of Charleroi and 30 kilometres (19 mi) south of Namur. Dinant is situated 20 kilometres (12 mi) north of the border with France.

At the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 Pire's family fled from Belgium to France in a boat to escape advancing German troops. After the armistice of 1918 the family was able to return to Dinant, which had been reduced to ruins. [3]


Pire studied Classics and Philosophy at the Collège de Bellevue and at the age of eighteen entered the Dominican priory of La Sarte in Huy. He took his final vows on 23 September 1932, adopting the name Dominique, after the Order's founder. He then studied theology and social science at the Pontifical International Institute Angelicum, the future Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum in Rome, where he obtained his doctorate in theology in 1936 with a thesis entitled L’Apatheia ou insensibilité irréalisable et destructrice (Apatheia or unrealisable and destructive insensitivity). [4] He then returned to the Studium of La Sarte where he taught sociology.

Dominican Order Roman Catholic religious order

The Order of Preachers, also known as the Dominican Order, is a mendicant Catholic religious order founded by the Spanish priest Dominic of Caleruega in France, approved by Pope Innocent III via the Papal bull Religiosam vitam on 22 December 1216. Members of the order, who are referred to as Dominicans, generally carry the letters OP after their names, standing for Ordinis Praedicatorum, meaning of the Order of Preachers. Membership in the order includes friars, nuns, active sisters, and affiliated lay or secular Dominicans.

Huy Municipality in French Community, Belgium

Huy is a municipality of Belgium. It lies in the country's Walloon Region and Liège Province. Huy lies along the river Meuse, at the mouth of the small river Hoyoux. It is in the sillon industriel, the former industrial backbone of Wallonia, home to about two-thirds of the Walloon population. The Huy municipality includes the sub-municipalities of Ben-Ahin, Neuville-sous-Huy, and Tihange.

Social science The academic disciplines concerned with society and the relationships between individuals in society

Social science is a category of academic disciplines concerned with society and the relationships among individuals within a society. The disciplines include, but are not limited to: anthropology, archaeology, communication studies, economics, history, musicology, human geography, jurisprudence, linguistics, political science, psychology, public health, and sociology. The term is also sometimes used to refer specifically to the field of sociology, the original "science of society", established in the 19th century. For a more detailed list of sub-disciplines within the social sciences see: Outline of social science.


After completing his studies Pire returned to the priory at La Sarte, in Huy, Belgium where he dedicated himself to helping poor families live according to their dignity. During the second world war, Pire served as chaplain to the Belgian resistance, actively participating in its activities, such as helping smuggle Allied pilots out of the country. He received several medals for this service after the war.

Dignity is the right of a person to be valued and respected for their own sake, and to be treated ethically. It is of significance in morality, ethics, law and politics as an extension of the Enlightenment-era concepts of inherent, inalienable rights. The term may also be used to describe personal conduct, as in "behaving with dignity".

In 1949, he began studying issues relating to postwar refugees (Displaced Persons [DP]) and wrote a book about them, entitled Du Rhin au Danube avec 60,000 D. P.. He founded an organisation to help them. The organisation established sponsorships for refugee families, and during the 1950s built a number of villages in Austria and Germany to help house many refugees. Although a Dominican friar, Dominique Pire always refused to mix his personal faith with his commitments on behalf of the disadvantaged, a decision that was not always understood by his religious superiors.

After winning the Peace Prize, Pire also helped found a "Peace University" to raise global understanding. Later convinced that peace would not be achievable without the eradication of poverty, he founded "Islands of Peace", an NGO dedicated to the long term development of rural populations in developing countries. Projects were started in Bangladesh and India.

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

More than 30 years after his death, the four organizations he founded are still active. In 2008 a program was established in honour of his work at the Las Casas Institute at Blackfriars Hall, University of Oxford. [5]

Organizations founded by Dominique Pire

Georges Pire receives the Nobel Prize for Peace 1958 from Gunnar Jahn, Chairman of the Nobel Committee, at the University of Oslo. Georges Pire 1958 nobel.jpg
Georges Pire receives the Nobel Prize for Peace 1958 from Gunnar Jahn, Chairman of the Nobel Committee, at the University of Oslo.


  1. Accessed 21-7-2013
  2. Accessed October 15, 2012
  3. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-07-02. Retrieved 2012-10-15.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Accessed October, 2012
  4. Servais Pinkaers, "A Dialogue and Action for Peace: Dominique Pire (1910–1969)" Archived March 19, 2009, at the Wayback Machine in Preaching Justice: Dominican Contributions to Social Ethics in the Twentieth Century, edited by Francesco Compagnoni OP and Helen Alford OP, Dublin: Dominican Publications, 2007, ISBN   1-905604-07-6, Part 1, Section B, 6, p. 137.
  5. Las Casas Institute Archived July 9, 2013, at the Wayback Machine on Blackfriars Hall website

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