Brother Antoine spent years in various abbeys, interspersed with work and travel, and became aware of humanitarian work in India. Then he spent thirty years alone in a cave in Dieulefit, small village in Haute Provence, France, though punctuated by several trips to India. He had learned of a jungle school founded on Gandhian principles and taught there a few months.
Frere Antoine published four books during his hermitage days: Une bouffée d’ermite (A Hermit Breathes), La voie du rocher (The Way of the Rock), Le cosmomoine (The Cosmic Friar ), and Au cœur de la grotte (At the Heart of the Cave).
Frere Antoine decided to end his solitude.
I left my cave as I was becoming a strange beast, and I was constantly disturbed by tourists, so I decided to go elsewhere. … I learned at the same time that I had the right to a small pension for my old age, I, who live on only a hundred francs a month. It was then that I decided to go to India with the money and give a party to this school in the jungle!
That was in the mid 1990’s. Frere Antoine learned that in northern India, an ongoing humanitarian campaign rallies hundreds of volunteer physicians, medical students, and local assistants to treat people, especially children, suffering vision problems from cataracts to blindness. Antoine has joined this work.
French filmmaker Bruno Vienne has documented Frere Antoine’s life as a hermit and a humanitarian helper in India in the film: Frère Antoine – Ballade pour un Ermite.
Film summary: http://www.monalisa-prod.com/vf/catalogue/ethnologie/ethno_antoine.htm.
YouTube two and a half minute short: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v3Wf0eAWVrM.
Thanks to a Hermitary friend for bring this to our attention.