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«RAOUL FOLLEREAU The Book of Love Italian Association Amici di Raoul Follereau (AIFO) Raoul Follereau The Book of Love Original title Le Livre d'Amour ...»

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The Book of Love

Italian Association Amici di Raoul Follereau (AIFO)

Raoul Follereau

The Book of Love

Original title

Le Livre d'Amour

Fondation Raoul Follereau, Paris, 1970

Italian Association Amici di Raoul Follereau (AIFO)

Via Borselli 4-6, 40135 Bologna, Italy

New edition reviewed and updated

by AIFO, Italy, 2013


During the course of his life Raoul Follereau had written tens of books and pamphlets, and hundreds of articles. His works cover all the different literary genres: poetry, theatre, fiction, travelogues, memorials, non-fiction and denouncements.

As a testimony of his battles, he wanted to bring together in a volume that easy to carry and to read, what he himself had defined as "a synthesis of my life and my work". The Book of Love was thought mainly for the youth, and is composed of his most significant citations from his works that, as he had himself wished, carries the name of his first collection of poems published in 1920.

The Book of Love was published first in 1970, and it was afterwards revised with additions of some later writings. With the diffusion around the world of the solidarity that is known by the name of Raoul Follereau, the present edition of the Book of Love has been enriched with new and more ample citations from his works. This Italian edition, has been revised completely while the sources and biography have been updated.

Follereau wanted that this small volume could reach everyone. Even today, it remains a

fundamental guide for all those who believe in his message:

"No one has the right to be happy alone" I would be nothing but the dust but I will make the grass grow and the flowers bloom I would be nothing but the dust but I will sing in your hearts I shall live in your joy in your divine hope in your shining enthusiasm in your thunderous anger My exhausted heart will live in the eternity of the worlds Raoul Follereau (From: "I shall sing after my death")


Raoul Follereau was born at Nevers, a small town in France, on 17 August 1903, in a Catholic family. The pain of losing his father, who had died during the first world war, marked his refusal of war and the misery that it creates. Young Follereau was especially attracted by the literature and poetry. Very early he showed the qualities of being a good speaker. His first public conference, when he was only 15 years old, already had his lifeplan: "God is love", that was the title of the conference, "to be happy means to make others happy", and "to live is to help others to live". At the end of the war he met Madeleine, the young woman, who would become the companion of his life and who would accompany him in all his travels.

His poet's soul expressed itself in different ways and, with his marriage and final shifting to Paris, Follereau immerged himself in the atmosphere of those times. In that period, he also started traveling in different parts of the world. During the 1930s, during a journey in Africa, by chance he encountered for the first time, the persons affected with leprosy.

The war and the German occupation of France influenced his conversion to a commitment towards those who suffer, those in need and against the wars. During the war he organized the first solidarity campaigns as he had understood the limits of the battles that focused only on the ideas.

The most important of his campaigns in those years was the "Hour for the Poor", launched in 1943, in an easy to understand mechanism that everyone could follow. Everyone was asked to donate one hour of income for helping the poor persons. Already at that time he understood clearly that it was not just about giving money, but also about getting directly involved with the misery and the exclusion. During the conferences for presenting this initiative, he underlined in his speeches the extraordinary importance of the act of love, without which charity is reduced to giving alms.

In the same year he was involved in an activity for the persons affected with leprosy. It was related to the Adzopé village in Ivory coast, for which he had received a project from the nuns of Our Lady of the Apostles, with whom he was staying to escape from the German occupation of France.

The second world war was not yet over, when he launched his first appeals for peace to the important world leaders. He denounced the scandal of enormous resources absorbed by the accumulation of war-instruments and that with the atom bomb it would easy to destroy all the life on the earth in a few moments. He asked with insistence that a part, even a minimum part, of the money spent on war should be used for helping the suffering humanity, those who are hungry, who do not have homes, hospitals and schools. The big leaders did not listen to his appeals and this prompted Follereau to reach out directly to the vast public, of all the different cultures and religions, and thus, he identified in the youth the necessary energy to carry on the ambitious objectives he had chosen.

Since 1950s, he concentrated on the battle against leprosy. At that time, persons affected with leprosy were the symbols of exclusion and prejudice by the society. The persons affected with leprosy lived in inhuman conditions, excluded from social life. Follereau acted in two directions. On one hand, ensuring that affected persons had access to the treatment they needed, also because the medicine that could limit the infection was already available. On the other hand, he worked for the fight against prejudice and ignorance that surrounds the persons affected with leprosy. He did it by going to meet the affected persons, by hugging them, by holding their hands, hundreds of time to change the view that "the disease is dangerous". In this way, people started calling him, the "Vagabond of the charity" and "Apostle of persons affected with leprosy".

As a result of Follereau's appeals to give continuity and strength to this commitment, in 1954 the World Leprosy Day was instituted, to be celebrated on the last Sunday of January. Follereau asked that on this day in all churches, those passages should read where Jesus encounters and cures persons affected with leprosy. Right from the beginning, Follereau linked the campaign against leprosy to other issues such as hunger and poverty.

He explained that these injustices had their origins in the wars, in selfishness and in the cult of money. Thus his fight against leprosy immediately became the "fight against all the leprosies".

Such ambitious action required involvement of institutions. Follereau wrote to the big of the earth, to United Nations, to the governments and parliaments of different countries.

Thanks to the mobilization of international public opinion and the youth (with more than three million signatures) in December 1969, the United Nations instituted the World Day of Peace.

By this time the horizons of Raoul Follereau had extended to cover the whole world. He continued to travel tirelessly, multiplied his writings and his appeals. To support his activities, in France and in many other countries, he helped to set up the associations that carry his name. This is how, the Italian Association Amici di Raoul Follereau (AIFO) started in Bologna (Italy) in 1961 (original name "Amici dei Lebbrosi").

Follereau prepared for the time when his witness would pass to others. In those last years of his life, he particularly turned to the youth for finding the new energies that can build the Civilization of Love in which he believed firmly. At the time of his passing away in Paris, on 6 December 1977, he was sure that other persons would continue his fight against all the leprosies.

Important Note While reviewing the text of this book, we faced a dilemma - how to deal with the language used by Raoul Follereau? Almost sixty to eighty years ago, when Raoul Follereau wrote many of his speeches, it was common to use words like 'leper' while referring to persons affected with leprosy. Over the past couple of decades, organisations of leprosy affected persons such as IDEA have advocated for not using such words since they denigrate and offend the dignity of persons.

If Raoul Follereau was alive today, he would have surely listened to ideas and desires of persons affected with leprosy and not used words which offend other human beings.

Should we then change the words used by him and substitute them with others? After much debate, in the end, we have decided to leave his words as he had written them and to add this explanation.


–  –  –

• To hope is very little and to live is nothing: we must love.

• For love is to pray: love is a rebirth!

The Book of Love-1920

• My happiness wants only one thing: to see it extended to the whole earth.

• To live is to help others to live.

• In speaking of yourself, don’t say "Me" nor in speaking of others "they", say better "We". The only way of procuring happiness for oneself is to think of the happiness of others.

God is Love - 1923

• The heart is the key of Heaven. It is the great force of the Universe, the only invincible one, the only creative one.

• Love one another, that's all. It is the secret of happiness, the only happiness worthy enjoying. Let's pity the wicked and try to convert them. Let us show them they are on the wrong way, that evil is accessory to unhappiness, that only goodness brings joy.

Did not Socrates say: virtue is identical with happiness.

Towards the Ideal-1924

• We must have in our heart an admirable strength, when we are sure of the good we are doing.

•... Victory Was always granted to him who never doubted.

• Our ideal will be misunderstood? No matter!

Jibes will pour down. coward1y and insulting?

Courage, my friends! The struggle is never too hard.

The dream is never too great!

For the sweetest and noblest recompense When we are worn out fighting one against a hundred., Is to read in the depths of our broken heart

These words engraved in golden letters by the conscience:

“ I have never despised you."

On the Road of Charity-1947

• Why would I not make of my life. every day of my life., a mere act of love?

• Any soul won over to charity is already on the way to God.

Charity Will Save The World – 1948

• Progress? It is only a huge machinery to destroy.

Human reason? It has been scoffed at. debased and degraded.

For five years. man led mankind to suicide; the common grave has been the goal of his activities; he has used his strength to kill. and again to kill, and to learn to dispense with compassion.

Henceforth. how are men united Lofty ideals have bitterly failed, great dreams have been buried in hatred.

Only charity remains.

• To give without love is an offence.

• If to give alms, it were enough to be charitable, where would be the merit? And the joy?

• Charity is a presence. We must not only give, but give of ourselves.

• Charity is the spring of God's justice.

Atomic Bomb or Charity? - 1949

• Charity, that knows neither class. nor caste, nor race:

Charity, that breaks down frontiers;

Charity, that rejects all warfare;

Charity, stronger than death.


• Charity can conquer everything and heal everything.

If Christ, tomorrow... – 1954

• No one has the right to be happy alone.

• Knowledge, without knowing how to love, is nothing.

And sometimes worse than nothing.

• I don't believe in the social era of man, this kind of established brotherhood, with its regulations and police, but in the advent of the free and victorious reign of love.

What is needed. what will determine and settle everything. is to love one another.

• Mind: Charity, not alms. Not that scornful offering you drop disdainfully and which, while it offends the receiver, brings shame on the giver. That kind of alms is but the ghost, the parody of Charity.

• One must have done a lot to realize that he hasn't done enough.

• Happiness is the only thing that one is sure of possessing when one has given it.

• I am convinced Charity one day will get the better of violence, selfishness and money.

I am convinced one day there will be no more starvation, slums, or wars;

no more children lacking love, no more homeless old people;

when all the living will have a right to live...

And as for us, our reward will be to have believed in this Paradise before having seen it.

• Beethoven was deaf, Rembrandt became blind, Damien a leper, Pasteur paralysed!

Dunant died in the Incurable Hospital and Pauline Jaricot had to beg!

After all, what does it matter?

Charity accepts trials., Charity smiles at suffering, Charity remains stronger than death.

A Speech on Charity-September 7th, 1955

• Charity is the projection of Christ's face on the face of the poor, the suffering, the persecuted.

• Men have been living BESIDE EACH OTHER for too long.

Today, they know they must live ALL TOGETHER.

We must teach them to live ONE FOR ANOTHER.

Men Like Other Men-1956

• Paradise is to love one another.

Related by Elisée SERVIGNE in "The Man who embraces Lepers-1959"

• What’s wrong?

First of all: Me. Because I am selfish, suspicious and ill-tempered.

If I would try to understand and help my neighbour, if I would practice real charity, without concern for creed, class or race, that king of charity which sees in every man a human being to be respected and to be loved, something would soon change in the world.

• Neither power, nor money will prevail. But love. Love without which nothing is possible, through which nothing is impossible.

Thirty Times Round The World-1961

• From the intelligence that betrays. From the machine that enslaves. From the money that corrupts. O Lord, rescue love.

• Paradise is to be able to go to sleep every night thinking that all the others are happy.

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