Struggle & devotion (1948 - 1981)

The third phase of Lanza del Vasto's life began with his wedding in 1948. Simone Gébelin, known as Chanterelle, would participate in the founding of the first Ark community in Tournier, Charente, then in its development in the successive sites where it would be set up: Tourrette-sur-Loup in the Alps, Bollène in Vaucluse, and finally la Borie-Noble in Hérault.


Lanza del Vasto et Chanterelle en 1958
Lanza del Vasto and Chanterelle in 1958

There, on a vast plot of land, the community grew to 150 people attracted by the Gandhian values of handicraft, simplicity of life, shared responsibility and prayer. A very large number of visitors also stayed there and were deeply moved.

Patriarch of this great community, Lanza del Vasto remained a pilgrim: always moving; trekking across France to anywhere groups of Friends were founding new communities; travelling abroad to preach non-violence. But he also devoted himself actively and publicly. In 1957, he protested against torture in Algeria and in 1958 against the race for nuclear weapons. Deeply Christian, he fasted in Rome for forty days during the Vatican II Council in order to beg the Church to disapprove of atomic armament and to explicitly promote non-violence.

The 1970s would be the years of his commitment alongside Larzac farmers, unjustly driven from their lands. He acquired a worldwide reputation as Apostle of nonviolence, as well as of a sage and spiritual guide. He died on January 5, 1981, leaving a legacy of forty books and countless life lessons.

His prolific and just works are a resource where the 21st century will find answers to the problems it shall face. Respect for nature, societal reinvention, peaceful resolution of conflicts, spiritual conversion, interreligious dialogue: in all these areas, Lanza del Vasto was fifty years ahead of the times. Now we must seize his message.


 A call to men of good will
A call to men of good will


The community in Tournier. The second pilgrimage (1948-1954)

  • August 1948: Tournier in Charente. First rural community.
  • October 1948: conference in Brussels. Meetings in Paris.
  • January 1950: with Chanterelle in Brussels.
  • March 1951: The Passion at Saint-Séverin (Paris).
  • Winter 1951-1952: first groups of Friends of the Ark, conferences in cities.
  • June 1952: closure of the community.
  • August 1952: Lanza and Chanterelle in Spain.
  • September 1952: Lanza del Vasto in Morocco: conferences.
  • October 1952 - December 1953: conferences in France, Belgium, Switzerland.
  • May 1953: in Morocco.
  • Summer 1953: final Saint John celebration (24 June) in Tournier.
  • October 1953 - November 1954: the Ark in Tourrettes-sur-Loup (Alpes-Maritimes).
  • End of December 1953: in Naples, boat for India.
  • January - May 1954: India with Vinuba: Bombay, Wardha, Gaya in Bihar.

The community in Bollène. First commitments (1954-1959)

  • Fall 1954: Lanza del Vasto and the Ark in Bollène (Vaucluse) for eleven years.
  • December 1956: fasting in Sicily, with Danilo Dolci.
  • March 1957: fasting in Paris against torture (Algerian war).
  • August 1957: in Argentina.
  • Summer 1957 - Summer 1960: second community in Puymoyen (Charente).
  • Easter 1958: demonstration at the Marcoule nuclear plant.
  • July 1958: fasting against the bomb in Geneva.
  • January 1959: Shantidas designated Pierre Parodi as his successor.
  • April - May 1959: Uruguay, Chile, Argentina.
  • Summer 1959: demonstrations against the internment of "suspects" in Larzac.
  • November 1959: "Mother" died in Bollène.

The apostle of nonviolence in the world (1960-1974)

  • April 1960: interview with Nehru in London.
  • Spring 1960: action against the camps of Algerian "suspects".
  • Pentecost 1961: six talks on "the spiritual trinity".
  • September - December 1961: Uruguay, Chile, Peru, Argentina, Lebanon.
  • Lent 1963: forty days of fasting in Rome.
  • Easter 1963: parts of the Ark set up in La Borie Noble.
  • January - June 1964: Senegal, Uruguay, Argentina, Peru, Colombia, Portugal.
  • April 1965: visited Pope Paul VI with Pierre Parodi. Noah (Denoël)
  • October 1965: in Rome, where Chanterelle and other women fasted for peace.
  • November 1965: Lanza del Vasto established himself at La Borie Noble.
  • January - December 1966: Argentina, Peru, Colombia, Canada, United States.
  • January 1967: Pierre Parodi founded the Ark in Morocco (1967-1974).
  • September 1969: with Chanterelle in Quebec.
  • February 1970: fifteen days in India.
  • March 1971: Active support for the march of Spanish objectors.
  • September - December 1971: with Chanterelle, Argentina, Canada, United States.
  • December 1971: ten days of fasting in Montreal for Bangladesh.
  • March 1972: fifteen days of fasting for Larzac. Start of a long struggle.
  • May 1972: with Chanterelle, commemorative trip to San Vito.
  • Summer - Fall 1972: The Charismatic Renewal touched the Ark.
  • October - November 1972: Quebec, United States. Met Caesar Chavez.
  • June 1973: suspension of vows for two years, refoundation of the community.
  • February 1974: with Chanterelle in Morocco.
  • October 1974: founding of a community in Truels du Larzac.

Last years. New trips (1974-1981)

  • October - November 1974: Quebec, United States, especially California.
  • Summer 1975: first General Chapter of the Ark.
  • November 1975: death of Chanterelle.
  • February - March 1976: conferences in Italy and Spain.
  • Summer 1976: protests and a week-long fast in Malville.
  • Summer 1976: foundation of several communities in France.
  • November - December 1976: Canada, United States, Canada.
  • January - Easter 1977: last trip to Argentina.
  • October 1977: last trip to India.
  • December 1977: conference at Notre-Dame de Paris.
  • 1978: four trips to Spain, one to Italy, one to Portugal.
  • March 1978: foundation of an Ark community in Quebec.
  • October 1978: fasting four days in Paris with Larzac peasants.
  • November 1978: Larzac peasants march on Paris.
  • May 1979: United States, Canada (last trip to America) ;
  • Summer - autumn 1979: two trips to Spain, one to Italy, one to Portugal.
  • December 1979: visited John Paul II in Rome.
  • 1980: three trips to Italy, two to Spain.
  • Spring 1980: founding of Bonnecombe and Grand Moulinié communities.
  • March - May 1980: Australia, Japan.
  • Summer 1980: Spain, Italy.
  • October - December 1980: Spain, Basque Country, Granada, La Longuera.
  • January 5, 1981: Lanza del Vasto died in La Longuera near Murcia.