Emmaus International

Emmaus International’s history in short

The Emmaus movement began in France in 1949 when the first communities were set up. In the middle of a housing crisis, the first companions built accommodation to re-house numerous families. When the authorities failed to take action, Abbé Pierre made an appeal on 1 February 1954, which had a substantial impact in France and beyond.

From 1954 onwards, Abbé Pierre travelled the world, became involved in the global fight against poverty and told others of his experiences with Emmaus. Emmaus organisations were formed in several countries.
When he almost died in a shipwreck off the coast of Uruguay in 1963, Abbé Pierre realised how urgent it was to organise the movement. The Emmaus organisations from around the globe met for the first time in 1969 in Berne, Switzerland and Emmaus International was then set up in 1971.

These “world assemblies” gradually forged the movement’s identity and, from the end of the 1980s, gave rise to common action and campaigns.