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The name "Emmanuel"

By january 1973, the meeting place on the rue Jean-Ferrandi had become too small. Pierre (founder) and Martine (co-founder) decided it was time to divide into two groups, one to welcome new members, which installed itself at the house of the Sisters of the Assumption (rue de l'Assomption, Paris) and the other as a place where the spirit of the group could be deepened, meeting in the rue Jean Ferrandi.

This division raised the question of how to remain unified in a common spirit. "We need a name," they said, and decided to pray for this. In early March 1973, Françou was at the Sisters of the Assumption, where she was well-known. Geneviève de Mareuil, a member of the group and a recent convert, stopped by, in her enthusiasm quoting Françou almost half the Bible. Among the passages she recited was a text from the prophet Isaiah, which she had read just that day from an open Bible in a church: "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel" (Is 7:14). At once, Françou, understood that this would be the name of the group: Emmanuel. Shortly afterwards, she met Sister Ignace-Christine, a Sister of the Assumption who attended the prayer meeting on the stairwell and announced joyfully, "That's it. I've found the name. It's..."
"Emmanuel, " replied Sister Ignace-Christine, before Françou had had time to finish her sentence.
Françou adds, "Geneviève and I were bursting with joy, a little as if it were Christmas."

When Martine was told this, she explained, "Ah! Now I understand why, when I open different Bibles, I keep finding the same passage: "Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel."" This passage from Isaiah is taken up again at the beginning of Matthew's Gospel, verse 23.

Pierre, too, was deeply struck by this passage: "and his name shall be called Emmanuel: this is God who is always with us, God who fights for us and goes ahead of us in battle."

Yet another confirmation came from Alain V., a young man from Melun (France), who had written a poem at the same time, in gratitude both for his conversion and for the prayer group. He entitled the poem "Emmanuel" without being aware of what had happened.

When this name was announced, it was unanimously accepted and acknowledged with joy. This name bore a grace and a destiny: the Virgin's protection has never failed Emmanuel. From the beginnings of life in community, the angelus has been faithfully sung before each meal.

Passage taken from the book "Fire and Hope" - pages 45-46

Emmanuel Community 2005 - 2006
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