Georges Charles Clement Ghislain Pire is Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize
Dominique Pire (Georges Charles Clement Ghislain Pire) (Dinant, February 10, 1910 – Leuven, January 30, 1969) was a Belgian Dominican friar whose work helping refugees in post-World War II Europe saw him receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 1958.
He was the eldest child of Georges Pire, Sr., a civic official, and Berthe (Ravet) Pire.
Georges Pire studied classics and philosophy at the Collège de Bellevue and at the age of eighteen entered the Dominican priory of La Sarte in Huy. He took his final vows on 23 September 1932, adopting the name Dominique, after the Order's founder. He then studied theology and social science at the Pontifical International Institute Angelicum in Rome, where he obtained his doctorate in theology in 1936 with a thesis entitled L’Apatheia ou insensibilité irréalisable et destructrice (Apatheia or unrealisable and destructive insensitivity). He returned to the priory at La Sarte, in Huy, Belgium where he dedicated himself to helping poor families live according to their dignity. During the second world war, Pire served as chaplain to the Belgian resistance, actively participating in its activities, such as helping smuggle Allied pilots out of the country. He received several medals for this service after the war.
In 1949, he began studying issues relating to postwar refugees (Displaced Persons [DP]) and wrote a book about them, entitled Du Rhin au Danube avec 60,000 D. P.. He founded an organisation to help them. The organisation established sponsorships for refugee families, and during the 1950's built a number of villages in Austria and Germany to help house many refugees. Although a Dominican friar, Dominique Pire always refused to mix his personal faith with his commitments on behalf of social justice, a decision that was not always understood by his religious superiors.
After winning the Peace Prize, Pire also helped found a "Peace University" to raise global understanding. Later convinced that peace would not be achievable without the eradication of poverty, he founded "Islands of Peace", an NGO dedicated to the long term development of rural populations in developing countries. Projects were started in Bangladesh and India.
He died at Louvain Roman Catholic Hospital on January 30, 1969, from complications following surgery.
More than 30 years after his death, the four organizations he founded are still active. In 2008 a program was established in honour of his work at the Las Casas Institute at Blackfriars Hall, University of Oxford.
Throughout his thirty-two years of work for peace and human dignity, Father Henri Dominique Pire lived simply in the monastery at Huy, discharging his religious duties and continuing to lecture. He died at fifty-eight at Louvain Roman Catholic Hospital on January 30, 1969, of complications following surgery.