Way Cleared for de Foucauld's Beatification

Miracle Attributed to Spiritual Master of the Sahara

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 20, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The Vatican officially attributed a miracle to the intercession of Charles de Foucauld, French explorer and evangelizer in the Sahara, clearing the way for his beatification.

The Congregation for Sainthood Causes promulgated a decree today, in the presence of John Paul II, in relation with the miraculous cure of a cancer sufferer in 1984.

Born in Strasbourg, France, in 1858, de Foucauld was orphaned at 6. After a brief military career, in 1883 he undertook an expedition in the Moroccan desert which won him the gold medal of the French Geographic Society.

His religious conversion occurred in 1886. He went on pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1888. After his experience as a Trappist in Syria and as a hermit in Nazareth, in 1901 he was ordained a priest. He studied Arabic and Hebrew.

“He lived in poverty, contemplation and humility, witnessing fraternally to God’s love among Christians, Jews and Muslims,” said Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for Sainthood Causes, during the ceremony for the decree’s promulgation.

“In order to imitate Jesus’ hidden life in Nazareth, de Foucauld went to live in Tamanrasset, in the heart of the Sahara Desert,” added the cardinal.

De Foucauld wrote several books on the Tuareg, including a book of grammar and a French-Tuareg dictionary.

He founded the Union of Brothers and Sisters of the Sacred Heart that was committed to the evangelization of the Tuareg of the Sahara.

On Dec. 1, 1916, at 58, de Foucauld was shot dead in the midst of a skirmish among Berbers of Hoggar.

Ten religious congregations and eight spiritual life associations have been inspired by his testimony and charism.

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