The ‘road to peace’ makes stop at St Andrews

Tuesday 7 April 2015

The 'road to peace' main body

The winner of the ‘Nobel Prize for Religion’ will make a special appearance at the University of St Andrews tomorrow (8 April 2014)… in a lecture delivered via Skype.

Jean Vanier, founder of L’Arche, follows in the footsteps of Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu, as winner of the £1.1m 2015 Templeton Prize.

He will talk about his work with L’Arche – a network of communities where people with and without intellectual disabilities can live and work together – in the Templeton Prize lecture, which is being delivered for the second time at St Andrews.

The Lecture, entitled “L’Arche: a Road to Peace through Disability”, will be co-presented by John Swinton, Professor of Practical Theology and Pastoral Care at Aberdeen University, who proposed Vanier for the prize.  Professor Swinton will deliver the main part of the lecture in St Andrews, with Vanier joining in with a Q&A via Skype.

The Templeton Prize honours a living person who has made exceptional contributions to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works.

Vanier (86) set up L’Arche in northern France in 1964, when he had been shocked to discover a world of oppressed intellectually disabled people.  What started with him transforming the lives of two individuals, has grown into 147 residential communities – that promote solidarity amongst people with and without disabilities – operating in 35 countries.

There are 10 L’Arche Communities in the UK – two in Scotland, Inverness and Edinburgh – where people with and without learning disabilities share life together, living and/or working in the community.

It is a particular coup for St Andrews to be selected as host and only the second time that the Prize lecture has taken place outside the US. Last year, the University hosted the 2014 winner, Tomas Halik.

Organiser Professor Eric Priest, of the School of Mathematics & Statistics at St Andrews, said, “The lecture will honour a wonderful person.  Jean Vanier has transformed the way we interact with people with intellectual disabilities.  The Templeton Prize is regarded by many as the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for religion, and so it is a great honour being asked once again to host the Prize lecture.”

In his work spanning 50 years, Vanier has written more than 30 books that have been translated into 29 languages. In his writings, Venier says that ‘regardless of race, religion or status, we are all human beings with hearts capable of loving’.

The Templeton Prize Lecture will be delivered on Wednesday 8 April, 5:15 PM, in Theatre A of the School of Physics & Astronomy, North Haugh, St Andrews.

The Templeton Prize will be awarded in London in May.



Videos of Jean Vanier and highlights of the press conference where the prize was announced are available at

Contact: Prof Eric Priest, 01334 474975, 01334 463709; [email protected]

Photograph of Jean Vanier (Credit:  Templeton Prize, John Morrison)
Contact press office on 01334 462108.

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