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Does the beauty of a church influence a conversion? The case of André Frossard

The Notre-Dame du Liban church is a neo-Gothic church in the Latin Quarter of Paris. It was here, inside it, that on July 8, 1935, at the age of 20, André Frossard discovered God.

The story of his conversion is told by this great French thinker in his book "God exists, I met him". It is the story of the conversion of a young man brought up in an atheist environment who, without wanting or looking for it, encounters God inside a chapel in the Latin Quarter, when he enters to look for his friend Wilheim.

Willemin stops the car next to a church. He asks André to wait a few moments, he has to do something in there. André waits quietly, indifferent. Time passes, and Willemin is slow to get out. Finally, André decides to go inside to look for his friend, to see what is taking him so long.

"A quiet atheist, I know evidently nothing when, tired of waiting for the end of the incomprehensible devotions that keep my companion somewhat longer than I had anticipated, I push open the little iron door to examine more closely, as a sketcher, as a voyeur, the building in which I am tempted to say that he eternizes himself (in fact, I would have waited for him, at most, three or four minutes)" ("God Exists," p. 153).

André is inside this strange building. He observes the architectural and artistic details of a neo-Gothic church. He searches the half-light for his friend. He observes a group of nuns praying before Jesus in the Sacrament, and some of the faithful. His eyes scan, again and again, for a glimpse of Willemin.

Suddenly, something happens, an unexpected horizon opens up. "My gaze passes from the shadow to the light, returns to the crowd without bringing any thought, goes from the faithful to the immobile nuns, from the nuns to the altar: then, I do not know why, it fixes on the second candle that burns to the left of the cross. Not the first, not the third, but the second. Then, abruptly, the series of prodigies is unleashed, whose inexorable violence will dismantle in an instant the absurd being that I am and will bring to the world, dazzled, the child that I have never been".

First of all, these words are suggested to me: spiritual life. They are not said to me, I do not form them myself, I hear them as if they were pronounced close to me, in a low voice, by a person who would see what I do not yet see.

It was a brief moment. André goes out into the street with his friend, who watches him with concern. "But what's wrong with you?" André replies, "I'm a Catholic..." Willemin is stunned. André continues: "apostolic and Roman". Willemin doesn't understand what has happened, he sees André's eyes wild, mysterious. André insists: "God exists, and everything is true".

(*) André Frossard, French thinker of the 20th century, born on January 14, 1915 in Colombier-Châtelot (France). His education was completely atheist or, better, not even atheist: in his family environment it was thought that it was already "old-fashioned" to oppose believers, to fight against religion. Religion had no value: it was not even worth fighting against.... He converts to Catholicism in xxx. In the book "God exists, I met him" he narrates his conversion.

Date: 
25/01/2015
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info@granda.com
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