Pierre Goursat, Servant of God
Pierre (Peter) Goursat was born in Paris on August 15, 1914, the day of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. He died also in Paris on March 25, 1991, in the solemnity of the Annunciation. It was the Monday starting Holy Week. His entire life was somehow inscribed between these two Marian holidays and the space of one city – Paris, which Peter loved so much.
Like most of Parisians, Pierre had ancestors from the provinces. Pierre’s mother, Maria Goursat, was a woman of great faith who loved the Mother of God very much. She attached great importance to prayer. The whole family was deeply Christian. This reference to God played a huge role in Peter’s life. Maria Goursat was reportedly a charming, elegant woman with an engaging way around.
The father’s family came from southwestern France in Périgueux and his was a wealthy Catholic family, Victor Goursat, born in 1877, was the youngest of his siblings. Two of his sisters entered religious life. The eldest, Georges, was a famous caricaturist, with the pseudonym Sem. Victor also liked to draw caricatures.
Pierre’s parents were not a happily married couple. Their worlds were very different from each other: Maria worked hard while Victor drew caricatures for newspapers. Victor was very talented, but very sensitive, with changing moods. After quite a short time, the couple split up. From childhood, Pierre was deeply wounded by his mother’s suffering and by the absence of his father.
Pierre had a brother who was 11 years younger than him – Bernard. Under the influence of the piety typical of contemporary Catholic circles, immediately after his birth, the mother gave Pierre to the protection of Mary, and Bernard – the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The brothers were very close. Unfortunately, a tragedy occurred in Pierre’s life: at the age of ten, Bernard died suddenly due to illness. Sixty years later, Pierre spoke about his brother’s death: “It was terrible. I had the impression that I had been cut in half and that one half had been taken away. With time, slowly, I returned to balance.”
As the authors of the book “Fire and Hope” write about Pierre Goursat, he did not have a saintly aura about him; he had his limitations and weaknesses. He was a film critic and, as a layman, he decided to serve the Church. His life was not easy, and he struggled with tuberculosis from the age of 19.
He derived his strength from a deeply contemplative life. He founded the Emmanuel Community and the Fraternity of Jesus, which now have thousands of members around the world. He spoke of himself with great humility: “I am a poor worm.” In this way he referred to the words from Isaiah 41:13-14: “I, the Lord, your God, holding you by the right hand; I tell you: ‘Do not be afraid, I will help you.’ Do not be afraid, Jacob, poor worm, Israel, puny mite “. Thanks to these words, he could walk calmly ahead. As the Community grew more and more dynamic from year to year in response to the admiration expressed for him, he said:
“You did not notice that the Lord had led the community of the greatest poor,
so that everyone could see that He was the author of everything.”
Pierre called himself an “adorer” because he spent long hours and even entire nights in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. He attached great importance to personal evangelization.
A year after Pierre’s death, the Emmanuel Community was recognized by the Holy See, in a special decree, as “a gift for the universal Church.” Today, it is present almost all over the world and in the USA since 1982.
Pierre Goursat shows us the way to a unique spiritual life, a life that combines contemplative prayer, and involvement in the “affairs of this world”.
It is essential to not choose our path,
but to take the path that the Lord tells us,
because He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
Case for beatification
With the agreement of Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, Archbishop of Paris, the cause of canonization of Pierre Goursat was officially introduced in January 2010.
An important step was taken on Saturday, December 19, 2015: the diocesan phase was officially closed at a ceremony open to all in the church of the Holy Trinity in Paris. Since then, Pierre Goursat is officially called “Servant of God”.
If you experience special graces through the intercession of Pierre Goursat, please send your dated and signed testimonials to the following address:
Postulation de Pierre Goursat, Maison de Chézelles
6 place de la Mairie, 37220 Chézelles
Prayer for beatification of Pierre Goursat
Lord Jesus, we pray for the beatification of Pierre Goursat.
Inspired by a fervent desire for the salvation of souls
and a great love for the Church,
he worked with faith and hope
for the Church’s spiritual and apostolic renewal.
Lord, through his intercession, grant us the grace of trusting you
fully, serving you generously and doing your will.
Give us a heart which is open to adoration
and overflowing with compassion for all people.
Set us ablaze with fire and love
for the evangelisation of the world.
Lord, through the intercession of the Servant of God
we ask you with insistence to grant many favours
to all of our brothers and sisters in humanity,
especially the poor and those wounded by life.
Lord console the afflicted, strengthen the weak, heal the sick!
In a particular way, we entrust to you this intention …
to those who are far from you or who do not yet know you,
we ask you to reveal the infinite love
of your meek and gentle Heart.