|Blessed Charles de Foucauld|
|Born||15 September 1858, Strasbourg, France|
|Died||1 December 1916, Tamanrasset, Algeria|
|Beatified||13 November 2005 by Pope Benedict XVI|
Charles Eugène de Foucauld (Strasbourg, 15 September 1858 – Tamanrasset, 1 December 1916) was a Catholic religious and priest living among the Tuareg in the Sahara in Algeria. He was assassinated in 1916 outside the door of the fort he built for protection of the Tuareg and is considered by the Catholic Church to be a martyr. His inspiration and writings led to the founding of the Little Brothers of Jesus among other religious congregations. He was beatified on 13 November 2005 by Pope Benedict XVI.
Born in Strasbourg on September 15, 1858, he grew up in a family which was a part of the French aristocracy and entered the Saint-Cyr Military Academy in 1876. He later was a French army officer in Algeria but left the army in 1882 and went as an explorer to Morocco (1883-1884).
In 1890 he joined the Cistercian Trappist order first in France and then at Akbès in Syria, but left in 1897 to follow an undefined religious vocation in Nazareth. He began to lead a solitary life of prayer, near a convent of Poor Clares and it was suggested to him that he be ordained. In 1901 at the age of 43 he was ordained in Viviers, France and returned to the Sahara in Algeria and lived a virtually eremetical life. He first settled in Beni Abbes, near the Moroccan border, building a small hermitage for ‘adoration and hospitality’, which soon became the ‘Fraternity’. For Charles wished to be, and was seen to be, a “brother” to each and every visitor, whatever their religion, ethnic origin or social status. Later he moved to be with the Tuareg people, in Tamanghasset in southern Algeria. This region is the central part of the Sahara with the Ahaggar Mountains (the Hoggar) immediately to the west. Charles used the highest point, the Assekrem, as a place of retreat. Living close to the Tuareg, and sharing their life and hardships, he made a ten-year study of their language and cultural traditions. He learned the language and worked on a dictionary and grammar. His dictionary manuscript was published posthumously in 4 volumes and has become known among Berberologues for its rich and apt descriptions. He formulated the idea of founding a new religious order, which only became a reality after his death, under the name of the Little Brothers of Jesus. (See also: Louis Massignon)
On December 1, 1916, he was shot to death outside his Tamanrasset compound, by passing jihadists connected with the Senussi Bedouin; this act is to be seen against the general background of the uprising against French colonial power, World War I and famine in the Hoggar. He was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI on November 13, 2005 and is listed as a martyr in the liturgy of the Catholic Church.
Legacy as a Catholic religious
Charles de Foucauld died alone, and without the immediate fellowship of others sharing his practice of the life of "Jesus at Nazareth" and hospitality in the desert of Algeria. Yet he was successful at inspiring and helping to organise a "confraternity" within France in support of his idea. This organization called the Association of the Brothers and Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus consisted of lay and ordained members totaling 48 people at the time of his death. It was this group, and specifically the efforts of Louis Massignon, the world famous scholar of Islam, and a best selling biography written by René Bazin in 1921 - "La vie de Charles de Foucauld explorateur en Maroc, eremite du Sahara" - who kept his intuitions alive and inspired the family of lay and religious "fraternities" that include: Jesus Caritas, the Little Brothers of Jesus, the Little Sisters of Jesus among a total of 19 different religious ongregations. Though originally French in origin, these groups have expanded to include many cultures and languages on all continents. Today there is even a religious community following in the charism of Bl. Charles to be found in the Old Catholic Church.
- Foucauld, Charles de. Reconnaissance au Maroc, 1883-1884. 4 vols. Paris: Challamel, 1888.
- Foucauld, Charles Eugène de. Dictionnaire touareg–français, dialecte de l'Ahaggar. 4 vols. Paris: Imprimerie nationale de France, 1951-1952.
- Foucauld, Charles de. Poésies touarègues. Dialecte de l'Ahaggar. 2 vols. Paris: Leroux, 1925-1930.
- Charles de Foucauld — a diverse life
- Lettres au marabout. Messages touaregs au Père de Foucauld. Paris, Belin, 1999
- Charles de Foucauld
- Old Catholic Community of the Little Brothers and Sisters of Jesus Caritas
- Hungarian website about Charles de Foucauld and his spirituality