Today Christians Honor Blessed Charles de Foucauld, Martyr For Christ

Bl Charles de FoucauldBlessed Charles de Foucauld, Martyr for Christ (1858-1916)
Image Courtesy: Salt of the Earth

(Franciscan Media) Born in France Strasbourg, into an aristocratic family, Charles was orphaned by the age of 6 he and his sister Mary, according to SQPN were raised by their devout Christian Grandmother and studied from 1872-1875 at the Jesuit schools in Nancy and Paris.

Charles as a teenager came to reject his Catholic heritage and in 1876 entered the French Army Saint Cyr Military Academy, in 1880 Charles would join the 4th Hussar regiment and his unit was sent to Algeria, Charles would take along his mistress Mimi. When Charles declined to give Mimi up, he was discharged from the Army in 1881 for misconduct and moved back to France Evian.

When Charles eventually broke it off with Mimi he reenlisted into the Army (during the revolt of Bon Mama in Algeria, South Oran) Charles would reenlist into the Army and fought during the 8 mo rebellion. During this period of time, Charles became so fascinated with the Arabs he met, when he could obtain a leave-of-absence to study their beliefs, he would resign his commission.

During the next 15 months Charles would spend time learning Arabic and Hebrew — In May, 1885 Charles received the ‘Gold Medal’ of the French Geographic Society for his work. Charles subsequently began an exploration of Algeria and Tunisia from Sept 1885 to January 1886 and following, returned to Paris to begin working on his book Reconnaissance au Maroc (available at Amazon.com) which was published in 1888

Charles lived simply, sleeping on the floor, spending hours each day in prayer at home and in Church. From November 1888 to February 1889 Charles visited and explored Israel, during much of the rest of 1889 he would spend time at spiritual retreats.

On the 16 January, 1890 Charles would join the Trappist Monks at the Monastery of Notre Dame-des-Neigis, taking the name Brother Marie-Alberic, he would subsequently move to the Monastery in Syria at Akbes in June–In October 1896 Charles was sent to Rome to study but after 3 months, it was clear that his heart wasn’t into being there and he was released from his vows. During the subsequent year, Charles would make another pilgrimage to Israel on foot before returning to France to begin studying for the Priesthood.

In June 1901 Charles was Ordained at Viviers, he would subsequently move to the Oran region of Morocco to establish a base and would found an Order to evangelize Morocco — In 1902 Fr. Charles de Foucauld, began a program of purchasing Slaves in order to free them. In 1904 he began to evangelize nomadic Tauregs in the area of south and central Sahara great desert.

Fr. Charles  de Foucauld would translate the Gospels into the language of the Tauregs, in November 1903 he would translate Tauareg poetry to French and would spend years compiling a Taureg lexicon. In March 1909 Fr. Charles de Faucauld succeeded in founding the ‘Union of Brothers and Sisters of the Sacred Heart’ to evangelize the French Colonies in Africa.

Martyred for Christ: Fr. Charles de Foucauld was killed on this date in 1916 when he got caught in the middle of combat in Algeria between the Army of France and Arab insurrectionists.

Fr. Charles de Foucauld was Venerated by Pope Saint John Paul II in 2001 and Beatified in November 2005 by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

More here from the Vatican and here from American Catholic

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