The appeal of 1 February 1954 resonated internationally. As the world’s press reported on it, invitations poured in and Abbé Pierre travelled the world, invited to speak at conferences. He was committed to combating poverty, in all its forms, on an international scale. 

In April – May 1955, Abbé Pierre travelled to the United States and Canada at the request of philosopher, Jacques Maritain, at the same time as the film, Les Chiffonniers d´Emmaus (The Emmaus Ragpickers) was released. There he met President Eisenhower and local religious authorities. 

In March 1956, Abbé Pierre travelled to a newly independent Morocco at the request of Mohamed V, King of Morocco, who turned to Emmaus for advice on clearing the shantytowns. After a visit there, Abbé Pierre said, “You can have all the money in the world, but you can´t achieve anything without people. But with people, you can do anything, and you can make money.” He recommended the implementation of a rural training programme. 

In September 1956, he spoke to an audience of 800,000 people in Cologne, Germany. He then went to the Netherlands and Portugal in 1957, followed by Sweden, Belgium and Austria in 1958. 

At the end of 1958, beginning of 1959, he discovered India where an old friendship linked him to the leaders and disciples of Gandhi, the result of shared struggles for world federalism and the struggle against poverty. He met the Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. He travelled the country, walking 10,000 km with Vinoba Bhave, who mobilised the villagers to share their lands. He also met Mother Theresa of Calcutta. In 1962, he met Indira Gandhi. 

On his return journey, he stopped in Lebanon, in January 1959, giving a number of high-profile lectures. 

Between July – August 1959, he visited most of the countries in South America and a few newly formed Emmaus organisations. He forged a strong friendship with Dom Hélder Câmara, auxiliary bishop of Rio de Janeiro, who shared his struggle for society´s most disadvantaged members and championed their cause before the Latino-American Catholic authorities and the Vatican. 

In 1959, he was invited to Sweden, where the authorities were concerned about a significant increase in the number of university students committing suicide. Abbé Pierre urged them to sign up to become international volunteers in India and Latin America. In the decades that followed, he would repeat the same message to young people around the world. 

While Emmaus communities were multiplying across France, Abbé Pierre’s talks led to the creation of Emmaus groups (communities, friends, volunteers) throughout the world. In Europe in countries such as Austria, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden and Switzerland. In Africa, in Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Senegal, Rwanda and Togo. In South America in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela and North America, in both Canada and the United States, in Asia, including South Korea and Japan, and in Lebanon and many other countries.  

Through his multiple trips, he shared his vision and his experience of Emmaus. Emmaus groups soon sprung up in his wake, in Canada (1955), Switzerland (1956), South Korea (1957), Lebanon (1959), Chile (1959), Brazil (1963), and Rwanda (1969).   

However, these multiple trips were not without risk. In 1963, during a tour of the Emmaus communities in Latin America, his ship sank while crossing the Rio de la Plata between Uruguay and Argentina. He was reported dead for a few days, but he was eventually found alive. This shipwreck made him aware that only he and Lucie Coutaz had the contact details of all the Emmaus groups around the world.

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