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The Groupe Des Dombes


The Unity of Christians: The Vision of Paul Couturier

A comprehensive examination of Paul Couturier's vision for Christian unity, inspired by his idea of the Invisible Monastery and his knack for spiritual friendship. This vision is not solely rooted in Benedictine traditions but is also influenced by the Anglican Society of the Sisters of Bethany. Founded in 1866 in London, the Society shares a spiritual kinship with the Roman Catholic Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul, emphasizing community, hospitality, and active service modeled after the biblical home in Bethany.

Key Themes

Ecumenical Spirituality

  • Influence of the Sisters of Bethany: The Anglican Sisters of Bethany played a crucial role in shaping Couturier's ecumenical vision. Their foundation, based on principles of contemplative life coupled with active service, mirrored the lifestyle of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary, offering a model for Christian unity.
  • Prayer for Unity: From its inception, the Society included daily prayers for unity in its Rule, showcasing a pioneering spirit in spiritual ecumenism, long before it became a widespread ecumenical practice.

Paul Couturier's Ecumenical Efforts

  • Interfaith Visits and Dialogues: Historical accounts detail visits from significant Catholic figures, including Lord Halifax, Abbé Portal, and Abbé Couturier himself, to the Sisters of Bethany. These visits underscored the mutual respect and shared spiritual goals between Anglicans and Catholics.
  • Promotion of Universal Prayer for Unity: Couturier's advocacy for the Universal Prayer for Unity and his efforts towards corporate reunion highlight his commitment to bridging divides within Christianity.

Impact and Legacy

  • Historical Accounts and Correspondences: Documents and correspondences from the era, including community chronicles and personal letters, offer insight into the interactions between Couturier and the Sisters of Bethany. They reveal a deep mutual commitment to the cause of Christian unity.


Paul Couturier's vision for Christian unity, deeply influenced by the spirituality and hospitality of the Sisters of Bethany, laid foundational principles for ecumenical dialogue and cooperation. His emphasis on prayer, community, and the active service of love continues to inspire efforts towards unity among Christians.