Book cover An Ark for the Poor: The Story of L'Arche

An Ark for the Poor: The Story of L’Arche


An Ark for the Poor, originally published in 1995, is a history of L’Arche. Jean Vanier himself revised this updated edition as he looks back on 48 years of L’Arche communities: foundation and growth, joys and sorrows. Rather than list dates and places, Vanier chronicles the transformation that occurs when the poorest and the weakest among us find a haven of love and safety to carry them through the storms of life. Vanier writes, “It is the story, especially, of the beauty and fragility of people with mental handicaps. In and through the simple, humble gestures of daily living, it continues to be written, day after day. Our people help us rediscover the importance of these little gestures.”

Through this seminal work, the story of L’Arche is about an education that leads to a life of becoming human. Although this is not a political book, in its own narrative style there are social and political implications. The task of any society is to make room for the largest number of people to live well, and this story of L’Arche clearly shows how it is a place of justice where all may grow well in the various aspects of life.