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Simone Weil

black and white photograph of Simone Weil
Born in 1909 to a Jewish family in Paris, Simone Weil had a privileged childhood. An academic prodigy, she left a teaching career to become a factory worker in order to better feel and know the afflictions of the working class. Though drawn to pacifism, she went to Spain to fight the Nationalists in the Spanish Civil War. An agnostic, her hunger for beauty, virtue, and goodness was fed by her conviction that anyone can enter “the kingdom of truth” if only “he longs for truth and perpetually concentrates all his attention on its attainment.” She never conceived of the possibility of a “real contact, person to person, here below, between a human being and God” until one day “Christ himself came down and took possession of me.” Though she would remain religiously unaffiliated her entire life, the reality of this experience never left her. Simone Weil fled France when the Nazis invaded and joined the French resistance in London. In solidarity, she committed to eating the same rations as the men at the front. During the summer of 1943, she contracted tuberculosis and, weakened by malnourishment, she died within weeks. 

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