De Foucauld to Be Beatified This Fall

One-time Army Officer Became a Trappist

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VATICAN CITY, AUG. 30, 2005 ( Charles de Foucauld, a French Army officer who entered religious life and became a hermit, will be beatified Nov. 13 in St. Peter’s Basilica, says the postulator of the cause.

A message sent by the Vatican Secretariat of State to Monsignor Maurice Bouvier, the postulator, confirms the date of the beatification. The beatification was to be celebrated by Pope John Paul II on May 15, but was postponed because of his death.

According to information received by Monsignor Bouvier, two women religious belonging to Italian congregations will be beatified along with de Foucauld.

The postulator did not specify who would preside at the beatification ceremony.

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.

Heart of the Sahara

After de Foucauld’s 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 Tuaregs, members of a Berber people of the western and central Sahara, 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 Tuaregs.

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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