UK Markets closed

Founding father of the EU Robert Schuman in line for sainthood from Catholic Church

·2-min read
French industrialist Robert Schuman
French industrialist Robert Schuman

One of the founding fathers of the European Union was put on the path to sainthood by Pope Francis.

Robert Schuman, who called for a supranational community for coal and steel in 1950, was recognised by the Pope for his “heroic virtues”, the Vatican said.

Mr Schuman said cooperation on coal and steel, especially involving France and Germany, would make future wars impossible.

The Schuman Plan led to the European Economic Community in 1957, which evolved into the modern EU in 1993.

Along with Italy's Alcide de Gasperi, France's Jean Monnet and Germany's Konrad Adenauer, Mr Schuman is considered one of the "Fathers of Europe" for promoting supranational cooperation between traditional enemies.

A large European Union flag lies at the centre of Schuman square, outside the European Commission headquarters
A large European Union flag lies at the centre of Schuman square, outside the European Commission headquarters


The devout Catholic, a French prime minister and foreign minister in the aftermath of World War Two, is credited with breaking the cycle of wars on the Continuent and helped found Nato.

The papal recognition is an early stage in the canonisation process. Mr Schuman, who died in 1963 and now has the title of “venerable”, can only become a saint if two miracles are attributed to him.

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that only God performs miracles but that saints in Heaven intercede on behalf of people who pray to them. A miracle is usually the medically inexplicable healing of a person.

"Behind the action of the public man, there was the interiority of the man who lived the sacraments, who, when he could, would take to an abbey, who would reflect on the sacred Word before finding the shape of his political words," the Vatican said.

Pope Francis praised Mr Schuman’s legacy last year on the 70th anniversary of a May 9 landmark speech, the Schuman Declaration, which set out his plan.

Born in Luxembourg in 1886 to a Luxembourg mother and a French father in an area annexed by Germany, he was a German citizen at birth.

After World War I, when the area was returned to France, Mr Schuman became a French citizen.

A lawyer and a member of the French National Assembly, he was arrested in 1940 by the German Gestapo after the German occupation of France, but escaped in 1942. He was active in the French resistance.

The France-based Institut Saint Benoît has been promoting sainthood for Mr Schuman for several decades.

Its theologians and historians heard witnesses and examined all of his writing for documentation that was sent to the Vatican and that resulted in Saturday's decree.

Mr Schuman is celebrated in Brussels, where the major EU institutions are headquartered.

The metro station and square by the European Commission, whose officials are often characterised as having a religious zeal for their work, is named after him.

Just last week, Boris Johnson accused the EU of being “theological” in its approach to post-Brexit rules.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting