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The priest who saves prostitutes

“He looked at me as a person”: it is with these words inspired by Bernadette’s after the apparition of the Virgin, that this French association sums up its mission. Founded by Fr Jean-Philippe Chauveau with a group of lay people in 1998 and committed to the rehabilitation of prostitutes, in September it opened the shelter Maison Magdalena in a former monastery of Benedictine nuns at Ecuelles, south of Fontainebleau. The three residents of the Maison Magdalena take courses in tailoring, botany and candle-making, an old speciality of the sisters of the monastery. A particularly difficult childhood gave Chauveau something in common with the people he is helping: recurrent physical and sexual violence of which he was a victim in his youth catapulted him into the world of delinquency, leading him to end up in a reform school at the age of 13. There, however, he met a teacher who enabled him to discover the world of the arts, the starting point of his change. “It is because they closed the doors to life when I was little that I feel such a great need to open those of others’ hearts to enable God’s tenderness to penetrate”, he wrote.




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