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sexta-feira, 6 de fevereiro de 2009

Albert Schweitzer

German philosopher, physician, missionary, author and humanitarian, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952.

He has been called the greatest Christian of his time, for his personal philosophy on reverence for life, and a personal commitment to serve humanity.

Born in Kaysersberg, Upper Alsace, Germany (now Haut-Rhin Department, France) in 1875, to a family that for generations had been devoted to religion, music and education. His father and grandfather had been ministers, both of his grandfathers played the organ professionally, and many of his relatives were noted scholars. In 1893, Schweitzer entered the University of Strasbourg, where six years later, he obtained a doctorate in philosophy, and a year later, in 1900, he received his licentiate in theology.

In 1906, he published “The Quest for the Historical Jesus” on which much of his fame as a theological scholar exists. By the time he was 21, he had decided on the course of his life: for the next 9 years he would dedicate himself to the study of science, music, and theology, and then devote the rest of his life to serving humanity directly.

By the time he turned 30, he became a respected writer on theology and an accomplished organist.

In 1904, he decided to become a medical missionary after reading a paper describing the need for medical missions.

From 1905 to 1913, he studied medicine at the University of Strasbourg, then immediately founded a missionary hospital in French Equatorial Africa (now Gabon).

In 1917 during World War I, he and his wife were interned for a year as enemy civilians, but they were both released at the end of the war.

Schweitzer then returned to Europe, to study modern medicine techniques and to give lectures and concerts on the problems of Africa.

In 1924, he returned to Lambarene in French Equatorial Africa, where he would spend the remainder of his life, except for quick visits to Europe and the USA.

There he was doctor and surgeon in the hospital, pastor to the congregation, administrator of a village, writer of scholarly books, musician, and host to countless visitors.

In 1953, he used his Nobel Prize to expand the hospital and to build a leper colony.

In 1955, Queen Elizabeth II awarded him the “Order of Merit,” Britain’s highest civilian honor.

In the late 1950s, towards the end of his life, he came out against nuclear weapons and nuclear tests, believing they did nothing for humanity and could lead to nuclear war.

He died at his hospital in Lambarene, Gabon.

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