He was born Aristide Pierre Maurin into a poor farming family in the village of Oultet in the Languedoc region of southern France, where he was one of 24 children. After spending time in the De La Salle Brothers, Maurin served in the Sillon movement of Marc Sangnier until he became discouraged by the Sillonist shift from personalist action towards political action. He briefly moved to Saskatchewan to try his hand at homesteading, but was discouraged by the death of his partner in a hunting accident. He then traveled throughout the American east for a few years, and eventually settled in New York.
"Round-table Discussions, Houses of Hospitality and Farming Communes--those were the three planks in Peter Maurin's platform. There are still Houses of Hospitality, each autonomous but inspired by Peter, each trying to follow Peter's principles. And there are farms, all different but all starting with the idea of the personalist and communitarian revolution. . . Peter was not disappointed in his life's work. He had given everything he had and he asked for nothing, least of all for success."Dorothy Day on Peter Maurin, in her article commemorating the centenary of his birth
For a ten-year period, Maurin was not a practicing Catholic "because I was not living as a Catholic should."
In the mid-1920s, Maurin was working as a French tutor in the New York suburbs. It was at this time Maurin experienced a religious conversion. He was inspired by the life of Francis of Assisi. He ceased charging for his lessons and asked only that students give any sum they thought appropriate. This was likely prompted by reading about St. Francis, who viewed labor as a gift to the greater community, not a mode of self-promotion. During this portion of his life, he began composing the poetry that would later be called his "Easy Essays". http:http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fd/Catholic_Radicalism-_Phrased_Essays_For_The_Green_Revolution.pdf.
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