Devoted Son in a Family of Seven Children

Marcel Junod was born on May 14, 1904, in the town of Neuchtel in northwest Switzerland near the border with France. He was the fifth of seven children born to Richard, a devout French pastor, and Jeanne, a kind, intelligent woman and a native of Geneva.

Marcel spent most of his childhood in La Chaux-de-Fonds, a small, quiet village in the Jura Mountains. World War I broke out in 1914, and food rapidly became scarce in Switzerland as in other countries. Richard and Jeanne shared what little food they had with others less fortunate. Soon the Junod family was struggling to feed themselves, but, strangely, they never went hungry.

An interesting thing happened one Sunday when Richard was conducting the worship service. He suddenly let out a cry and dashed outside. The surprised congregation followed him to find that Richard had caught one of his young children who had fallen from the church's second story. When asked how he had known the child would fall, Richard said that he had had a sudden vision during the service.

Perhaps the Junod family was sustained by Richard's clairvoyance, for whenever they ran into difficulties some sort of miracle would occur: someone to whom they had long ago lent money would suddenly repay it, or a villager who had gotten some extra food would share it with them. Later in his life, Marcel would see bombs drop in front of him and repeatedly encounter other dangers, but he was never seriously injured and was always able to carry out his duties. Perhaps he inherited this talent from his father.

In 1918, when he was 14, Marcel went to work at a brick factory on weekends to help his parents out. But in 1919 the church where they lived burned to the ground. Misfortunes befell the family one after another. Marcel's father, whom he deeply respected, suddenly died of a heart attack. So, at the age of 15, Marcel pledged to follow in his father's footsteps and be a person who would offer assistance to those in need. Rather than be a pastor, however, he decided to embark on a career in medicine.

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