Abbé Pierre was born Henri Marie Joseph Grouès on August 5, 1912, in Lyon, Rhone-Alpes, France to the wealthy Catholic family of Antoine Grouès and Eulalie Perra. He was the fifth of eight children. His father was a prosperous silk trader with a strong social conscience.
Henri was spiritually inclined from an early age and was just 12 when he decided to become a missionary. As a young boy, he accompanied his father to an Order circle, the brotherhood of the "Hospitaliers veilleurs," where he learned the significance of serving the poor.
He realized his true calling at the age of 16 and decided to join a monastic order. However, he had to wait for some time before he could fulfill this ambition as he was considered too young at 16.