Charles de Foucauld´s Cause Advances

Holy See Officially Recognizes His Heroic Virtues

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VATICAN CITY, APR. 24, 2001 ( The decree officially recognizing Charles de Foucauld´s heroic virtues was read today in the Vatican, putting the French contemplative and missionary a step closer to beatification.

A miracle attributed to de Foucauld´s intercession is now needed to include him on the list of the Church´s blessed.

«The ´Little Brother of Jesus´ took humility, poverty and the charity of Christ to the Tuaregs of the Sahara, presenting himself as a universal brother of Christians, Jews and Muslims,» said Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

The cardinal said this when he presented John Paul II the conclusion of the Church´s investigation to verify de Foucauld´s heroic virtues.

Charles de Foucauld (1858-1916) was born in France. He lost the faith when young, and entered the army in 1876. He left the latter in 1882 to explore Morocco.

His expedition was a scientific success, bringing him the gold medal of the Geographic Society. Success did not calm his spirit, however. Then, at 28, he underwent a strong conversion experience.

Following a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, he gave serious consideration to entering the Trappist Monastery of Our Lady of the Snows in France. However, he decided to go to Syria, in search of a more austere life.

He traveled to Nazareth, where he worked for three years as a gardener in the Poor Clares´ convent. It was here that he recognized his calling to the priesthood. He decided to return to the Sahara to begin, simultaneously, the life of a hermit and missionary. He resided first in Beni-Abbes, and later lived among the Tuaregs in Tamanrasset.

Sharing the Tuaregs´ life, he learned their language, translated their poetry, and published an illustrated dictionary. Shortly after, he was moved to found a religious family, centered on the Gospel, the Eucharist and the apostolic life. He died Dec. 1, 1916, victim of a rifle bullet, in a rebel skirmish in Hoggar.

Today there are 10 religious congregations and nine associations of spiritual life inspired in his charism.

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