Clothilde Mathys, a very religious Catholic, was from a wealthy Belgian Canadian family.

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She was a librarian and active in the church movement founded by her brother Father Jean Mathys, when he was abbot of the monastery Saint Benoît du Lac in Canada. The movement was active in bringing youth closer to the Church. Every summer there were activities for the adults including the “King David” circle that consecrated itself to the study of Judaism. When Clothilde retired she came to Israel for the first time, in 1960.

Under the influence of Father Stehmann OSB, whom she met in Jerusalem, she decided to come and live in Israel and to continue here her activities. Clothilde tried to establish a library like the one she had directed in Canada but she did not receive the necessary permits because of fears that she was a missionary. She joined the Hebrew speaking Catholic community and in the tradition of her family she generously helped in financing its activities. In collaboration with Father Alfred Delmée, the priest responsible for the Hebrew speaking Catholic community in Jaffa, she helped many members of the community.

After different experiments, she decided to found a circle for meetings of Jews and Christians. Following the advice of Prof. Hugo Bergman of Hebrew University in Jerusalem, she decided to concentrate the activities of the circle in Tel Aviv where there was no activity of this kind. With the assistance of Joseph Emmanuel from the circle of “Mevakshei Derekh” (The Seekers of the Way), friends, Jews and Christians from all over the country, would gather to discuss issues concerning relations between the religions.

The circle attracted Father Bruno Hussar OP and Father Marcel Dubois OP from the Dominican Center of Isaiah House in Jerusalem. Of course, Father Delmée also participated. At the first meeting, held on January 18, 1965, Brothers Bruno and Marcel told about the document Nostrae Aetate, soon to be published by the second Vatican Council and its meaning for Jewish-Christian relations.

One of the highlights of the activities of the inter-religious circle was the visit of Clothilde’s brother and other friends from the monastery in Canada. His visit became a journey of pilgrimage and prayer.

For many years, the meetings of the circle took place weekly, including lectures by Jews and Christians on the meaning of their religions, on the possibilities of rapprochement and collaboration between them. Later the meetings became monthly rather than weekly.

Clothilde bought a spacious apartment which allowed the group to meet. She acquired many books on the subject of dialogue and religions and set up a library in Hebrew, English and French. This activity continued until her death on Shavuot, June 2, 1987. After her death, the meeting continued for another twelve years.

Clothilde knew how to generate a good atmosphere, exuding faith and friendliness among the people who participated in the meetings.
May her memory be blessed!

(We would like to thank Mr. Joseph Emmanuel for having written this article about Clothilde Mathys).

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Father Bruno Hussar OP and Mr. Joseph Emmanuel, close collaborators of Clothilde Mathys