VATICAN CITY, NOV. 13, 2005 (ZENIT.org).- The Church has three new blessed, including Charles de Foucauld (1858-1916), the apostle to the Tuaregs in the Sahara.
French-born Foucauld (1858-1916) was beatified today along with two Italian religious: Maria Pia Pastena (1881-1951), founder of the Sisters of the Holy Face, and Maria Crocifissa Curcio (1877-1957), founder of the Congregation of Carmelite Missionary Religious of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus.
The three were beatified at a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, presided over in the Pope’s name by Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for Sainthood Causes.
The cardinal read the apostolic letter in which the Pope inscribed the three Servants of God in the catalogue of the blessed. After the Mass, Benedict XVI himself came down to the basilica to venerate their relics.
The Holy Father briefly greeted the pilgrims who filled the basilica, among whom were Tuaregs from the desert, with their blue robes and white turbans.
Speaking in French, Benedict XVI gave thanks to God for the testimony of Father Foucauld: “Through his contemplative and hidden life in Nazareth he found the true humanity of Jesus, inviting us to contemplate the mystery of the incarnation.
“He discovered that Jesus, who came to unite himself with us in our humanity, invites us to universal fraternity, which [Foucauld] later lived in the Sahara, to the love of that which Christ had given as an example to us.”
“As a priest,” the Pope said, “he put the Eucharist and the Gospel at the center of his existence.”
The new blessed were proclaimed at 10 a.m., amid the applause of thousands present in the basilica.
The Holy Father also underlined the charism of Maria Pia Pastena who he said was “conquered by the face of Christ.”
She assumed Christ’s sentiments “for humanity disfigured by sin,” and founded a congregation of women to “propagate, repair and restore the image of sweet Jesus in souls,” Benedict XVI said.
Finally, the Pontiff recalled that Maria Crocifissa Curcio, whose existence “was a continuous prayer, including when she went to serve others, in particular women who were poor and in need.”
The beatification Mass was concelebrated by 65 cardinals and bishops, including Cardinal Polycarp Pengo, archbishop of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; Archbishop André Vingt-Trois of Paris; Archbishop Vincent Landel of Rabat, Morocco; and Bishop Bishop Maroun Lahham of Tunis, Tunisia.