In the spring of 1967, when former Secretary General of the United Nations U Thant first visited Lumbini, little was known about the Buddha’s birthplace. Beyond a handful of orientalists, colonial archeologists, and the occasional Buddhist pilgrim from Burma, Sri Lanka, or perhaps neighboring Bhutan very few had ventured to Nepal’s Western Terai to experience for themselves the site of Gautama Buddha’s miraculous birth. This is not overly surprising as the site does not house a grand monastery or temple complex like at Bodh Gaya in neighboring Bihar, India, and the historical records, those that do exist, show sparse and infrequent pilgrimage even by local Nepali Buddhists. Up until the middle of the 20th century Lumbini was principally an archeological excavation claimed as the site of the historical Buddha’s birth by colonial archeologists in 1896. And yet, in the matter of a little over fifty years since U Thant’s visit, Lumbini has become an internationally recognized cultural heritage site, a renowned centre of Buddhist pilgrimage, and at center stage in Nepal’s continued plans for national development. This paper presents findings from detailed archival work at the United Nations regarding former Secretary General U Thant’s involvement at Lumbini and explores his lasting legacy in its continued preservation and development under the governance of UNESCO. U Thant worked tirelessly during his tenure to ensure that Lumbini be developed by the international Buddhist community as a beacon for world peace; this paper traces the trajectory of that dream to the contemporary historical moment.