Brother Pierre-Yves (1929-2023)

Pierre Emery who, on entering the Taizé Community in 1953, took the name of Brother Pierre-Yves, died peacefully at Taizé on Sunday morning, March 12, 2023, while the brothers were celebrating the Eucharist in the Church of Reconciliation. For some time he had been losing his strength and had to remain in bed during the last week, but he remained lucid until the end and, on the morning of his death, a brother, just before leaving for the prayer in the church, exchanged a few words with him in his room.

He was born on April 15, 1929, the eldest of three children. He grew up in the Swiss Jura, in La Chaux-de-Fonds, until 1944, when the family moved to Lausanne where he did all his theological studies, except for a semester in Basel to follow the courses of the great theologian Karl Barth.

In 1953, in accordance with the custom at that time of brothers having received a pastoral vocation before joining the community, Brother Pierre-Yves went to do a training period in the parish of Aigle in the canton of Vaud, then in 1955 he went to Neuchâtel, where he was consecrated pastor in 1956.

With two other brothers, he exercised his pastoral ministry for a few years in a parish of the Lutheran Church in the Montbéliard region, while developing his vocation as an ecumenical theologian. He participated in the Groupe des Dombes, collaborated in the theological research of the World Council of Churches in Geneva, prepared publications among other things on "The unity of believers in heaven and on earth," "Christ our reward," and "The Eucharistic sacrifice among French Reformed theologians of the seventeenth century."

The expansion of the meetings in Taizé brought him back to the hill, where he was responsible especially for leading meetings of couples. From then on, for decades, he devoted a large part of his ministry to supporting the spiritual life and ecumenical commitment of couples from various countries, including many mixed Catholic-Protestant households.

He published, among other things, Prayer at the Heart of Life, The Breath of Hope: Elements of the Christian Life, and above all he began to study and translate the works of Saint Bernard and other Cistercian fathers of the twelfth century, of which he became a recognized specialist. For many years, he liked to spend the weeks of Lent at the monastery of Tamié. He readily responded to invitations from religious communities who asked him to lead a retreat.

In addition to his intellectual and pastoral gifts, it is worth mentioning that he was a musician and, almost to the end of his life, he played the cello regularly. At the junction of his love for music and his passion for the liturgical life, he wrote the text of many hymns, sung especially in the monastic family.

Last updated: 15 March 2023