Ecumenical Christian community based in the village of that name in southeastern France. Founded in 1940 by Swiss theologian Roger Schutz, it has been a communal centre for young Christians since the 1960s. Its community of monks is made up of members from the various Christian denominations all over the world. The Taizé community also works around the world among the poor.
Foundation During World War II Schutz had helped Jewish refugees in his house in the village of Taizé, and felt strongly that there was a need for a new kind of monasticism – a place where young people could visit and problems could be discussed. He wanted to reach out to young people and make their experience of Christianity meaningful, alive, and active. He aimed to demonstrate that Christians should be caring and involved with the needs of others.
Work of the community Although the members of the community take the traditional vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, each year the monks provide for thousands of visitors. The community at Taizé has its own printing press and farm, and the monks also make pottery.
Visitors Taizé may be visited by anyone who wishes to go there; these include people from any Christian denomination, any religion, and, if they wish, those with no religion at all. Every year many young people camp in the fields around the monastery. They can make friends, join in simple worship, take part in discussions, and air their questions about the place of Christianity in the modern world. Some may undertake manual work by helping in the kitchens or doing other odd jobs on the farm.
Worship As part of the ecumenical movement, Taizé, reflects the practice of many different denominations in its worship. Its church is called the Church of Reconciliation. Worship is simple and conducted in several languages including Latin, French, English, and German. Candles are lit in front of the church and there are icons (religious paintings) around it.
Each Saturday, the ‘Easter vigil’ is held. Members of the congregation hold candles, and prayers are offered for Christians who are being persecuted. Prisoners of conscience from all over the world are also remembered in the prayers.