This film tells the story of Jacques Maritain, a highly respected French philosopher, teacher and writer in the 20th century, who was a principal exponent of Thomism and an influential interpreter of the thought of St Thomas Aquinas. He lived for many years in the United States, and taught at Princeton University and Columbia University. After WWII, he served as the French ambassador to the Vatican, and he also helped draft the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948).
Maritain was born in 1882 in Paris, and studied at the Lycee Henri IV and at the Sorbonne where he fell in love with Raissa Oumancoff, a Russian emigrant student of Jewish origin. This was the beginning of an extraordinary love story, and they married in 1904. In search of truth and tormented by existential questions, they decided to search intensely for a year to discover the meaning of life, and if that meaning not found, they would commit suicide together. Through the philosophy of Henri Bergson, and the literature and friendship of Léon Bloy, they found the answers they sought, in the Catholic faith. They were baptized June 11, 1906.
Jacques became a famous philosopher and writer, teaching at the Institut Catholique from 1914 - 1939, and Raissa became a noted poet and mystic. The Maritains were friends with many well-known personalities in the arts, politics and the Church: Peguy, Bloy, Cocteau, Green, Bernanos, Rouault, Chagall, Satie, De Gaulle, Cardinal Journet, Pope Paul VI and many others. Those relationships are explored in this documentary film. Jacques was deeply engaged in the battles of his time denouncing anti-Semitism, fascism, Nazism, and during World War II the Maritains took refuge in America.
Jacques taught at Columbia and Princeton from 1941-1944, and then became the ambassador of France to the Vatican for 5 years after the war. After Raissa died in 1960, Jacques lived in the religious community of the Little Brothers of Jesus in Toulouse until his death in 1973. He is buried next to Raissa in Kolbsheim, France.