Frère Roger (Brother Roger) (Provence, Switzerland, May 12, 1915 - Taizé, August 16, 2005), baptized Roger Louis Schütz-Marsauche, also known as Brother Roger, was the founder and prior of the Taizé Community, an ecumenical monastic community.
Roger was born the ninth and youngest child of Karl Ulrich Schütz, a Protestant pastor from Bachs in the Zürcher Unterland (Zürich Lowlands) in Switzerland, and his wife, Amélie Henriette Schütz-Marsauche, a French Protestant woman from Burgundy.
From 1937 to 1940, Roger studied Reformed theology in Strasbourg and Lausanne.
In 1940, he rode a bicycle from Geneva to Taizé, a small town near Mâcon, about 390 kilometers (240 miles) southeast of Paris. Taizé was then in unoccupied France, just beyond the line of demarcation to the zone occupied by German troops. For two years Brother Roger hid Jewish refugees before being forced to leave Taizé. In 1944, he returned to Taizé to found the Community, first as a small quasi-monastic community of men living together in poverty and celibacy.
Since the late 1950s, many thousands of young adults from many countries have found their way to Taizé to take part in weekly meetings of prayer and reflection. In addition, Taizé brothers make visits and lead meetings, large and small, in Africa, North and South America, Asia, and in Europe, as part of a “pilgrimage of trust on earth”.
The spiritual leader always kept a low profile, rarely giving interviews and refusing to permit any "cult" to grow up around himself. Prior to his death, he was due to give up his community functions because of his advanced age and ill-health which had seen him suffer from fatigue and often use a wheelchair.
Brother Roger wrote many books on prayer and reflection, asking young people to be confident in God and committed to their local church community and to humanity. He also wrote books about Christian spirituality and prayer, some together with Mother Teresa with whom he shared a cordial friendship.
From a Protestant background, Brother Roger undertook a step that was without precedent since the Reformation: entering progressively into a full communion with the faith of the Roman Catholic Church without a “conversion” that would imply a break with his origins. In 1980, during a European Meeting in Rome, he said in St Peter’s Basilica in the presence of Pope John Paul II: “I have found my own identity as a Christian by reconciling within myself the faith of my origins with the mystery of the Catholic faith, without breaking fellowship with anyone.”
Brother Roger was stabbed to death during the evening prayer service in Taizé on August 16, 2005 by Luminiţa Ruxandra Solcan. He was stabbed several times and, though one of the brothers carried him from the church, he died shortly afterward. The assailant was immediately apprehended by members of the congregation and was placed in police custody.
His stabbing lead many who already considered him a saint to think of him as a martyr, even though there is no clear link between his faith and the crime.
Propers for Roger Louis Schütz-Marsauche - Prior of Taizé
O GOD, by whose grace the blessed Roger of Taizé enkindled with the fire of thy love, became a burning and a shining light in thy Church: Grant that we may be inflamed with the same spirit of discipline and love, and ever walk before thee as children of light; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Epistle - Philippians 3:7-15.
The Gospel - St. Luke 12:22-37.
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