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The Catholic Defender: Saint Charles de Foucauld’s Story

The Blessed Charles de Foucauld (1858-1916) took a photo of the Eucharistic Jesus while it was exposed on the altar. When the film was developed the attached picture of the Child Jesus appeared.

The picture upabove portrays the innocent Child Jesus looking up to His loving Holy Father and praying on our behalf. The surrounding shows the Child Jesus in a poor carpenter’s work shop.

Sometime later, Jesus told the monk "I promise to send my Blessings and my Peace to each Home where this image is found."

Born into an aristocratic family in Strasbourg, France, Charles was orphaned at the age of 6, raised by his devout grandfather, rejected the Catholic faith as a teenager, and joined the French army.

He lost his faith as an adolescent.

Inheriting a great deal of money from his grandfather, Charles went to Algeria with his regiment, but not without his mistress, Mimi.

When he declined to give her up, he was dismissed from the army. Still in Algeria when he left Mimi, Charles reenlisted in the army.

Refused permission to make a scientific exploration of nearby Morocco, he resigned from the service.

With the help of a Jewish rabbi, Charles disguised himself as a Jew and in 1883, began a one-year exploration that he recorded in a book that was well received.

"I lived the way it is possible to live once the last spark of faith has been extinguished. I am bored to death."

Inspired by the Jews and Muslims whom he met, Charles resumed the practice of his Catholic faith when he returned to France in 1886.

Declaring himself a “freethinker,” Charles later said, “I was so free, so young. There remained not a trace of faith in my soul.”

He joined a Trappist monastery in Ardeche, France, and later transferred to one in Akbes, Syria.

Leaving the monastery in 1897, Charles worked as gardener and sacristan for the Poor Clare nuns in Nazareth and later in Jerusalem. In 1901, he returned to France and was ordained a priest.

Later that year Charles journeyed to Beni-Abbes, Morocco, intending to found a monastic religious community in North Africa that offered hospitality to Christians, Muslims, Jews, or people with no religion.

“Keep your heart ready, and let it be filled with what Christ wishes to place there.”

He lived a peaceful, hidden life but attracted no companions.

A former army comrade invited him to live among the Tuareg people in Algeria.

“Being very young, this officer lacks firmness and enthusiasm. Of undeveloped character, he has much work ahead before he can perform at the level expected.”

Charles learned their language enough to write a Tuareg-French and French-Tuareg dictionary, and to translate the Gospels into Tuareg.

In 1905, he came to Tamanrasset, where he lived the rest of his life. A two-volume collection of Charles’ Tuareg poetry was published after his death.

"My place is in the desert. To establish myself over there, to be a priest and a hermit, for I believe that would be to the great glory of God, even if I remained alone…" St. Charles de Foucauld

In early 1909, he visited France and established an association of laypeople who pledged to live by the Gospels.

"My soul is experiencing a profound peace, which grows daily. It increases faith, which calls for gratitude. I am where the good Lord wants me to be. In a year, I shall make my profession. In my heart, I long to be bound through those vows, but I am already bound through my most every wish."

His return to Tamanrasset was welcomed by the Tuareg.

In 1915, Charles wrote to Louis Massignon: “The love of God, the love for one’s neighbor…All religion is found there…How to get to that point? Not in a day since it is perfection itself: it is the goal we must always aim for, which we must unceasingly try to reach and that we will only attain in heaven.”

The outbreak of World War I led to attacks on the French in Algeria.

During World War I, attacks were made on the French living in Algeria, and Charles was forced to build a fort to protect the people in the surrounding area; it became a place of refuge for many.

Fr. Huvelin in a letter in 1893:

"You are free, my son. You can follow the particular vocation that seems good to you. After prayer, study, and reflection, the fathers recognize in you a special vocation outside the rule. That is what the council has decided, unanimously. May God guide your footsteps."

"We obey in silence. We do good by what we are more than by what we do. We do good by being of God, by belonging to God. Yes, stability. Gather moss. Let the grace of God penetrate, grow, and solidify in the soul. Avoid agitation and endless new beginnings. It is true that we are always beginners, but at least always in the same way and the same direction."

God was indeed calling him to the priesthood. On June 9th, 1901, in the cathedral in Viviers, Charles de Foucauld was ordained a priest by Archbishop de Montéty.

Father de Foucauld celebrated his first Mass on the morning of June 10th, 1901, with his sister present.

I have permission to found. I have been authorized to found a new religious family under the rule of Saint Augustine, under the name of the Little Brothers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, for adoring night and day the Holy Eucharist in perpetual exposition, in the solitude of the cloister, in countries of mission, in poverty and work. I am collapsing under the weight of my blessings, of the vision of what I should be, of the vision of the good that I should do and of the good that would be done were I to be sanctified.

Seized in a raid by another tribe, Charles and two French soldiers coming to visit him were shot to death on December 1, 1916.

On a daily basis, Father de Foucauld would give food to those who begged, always making sure to ask anyone who begged to do a job or to work so that they might remained dignified.

In the end, not one other person would join his order. Instead of succumbing to discouragement, however, Charles counted this as a blessing to keep him ever humble before the Lord. He continued to offer all he had to God to do with as He pleased.

Sometime shortly before his death, he penned a prayer of abandonment, which many pray to this day.

Now his life was approaching its fullness. God would soon take him home.

Marauders—who set out to steal from the fort Charles had built in Tamanrasset—seized him and dragged him into the trench in front of his fort on December 1st, 1916. As two of his friends approached, Father de Foucauld attempted to warn them, and was shot by one of his captors at close range.

His life was consummated to God—a gift that he had received and offered back.

Charles de Foucauld’s body was found in a ditch in front of the small fort where he had lived as a contemplative serving the poor in Tamanrasset, Algeria.

Shot in the head by a marauder, the holy priest died a martyr.

The first miracle, which led to the beatification of Charles in 2005, took place in 1984 an Italian from Milan was cured of bone cancer through the intercession of Fr. Charles.

On May 26, 2020, Pope Francis signed the decree approving a second miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed Charles de Foucauld, paving the way for his canonization.

On November 30, 2016, the eve of the centenary of Charles’ death, a 21-year-old carpenter helping to restore St. Louis school’s Chapel in Saumur in France, One of the entrepreneur’s employees, a carpenter named Charle, had fallen from a ceiling vault in the chapel of St. Louis high school in Saumur, western France.

The 21-year-old man, known publicly only by his first name, had fallen 50 feet onto the armrest of a church pew.

Seven doctors examined the young man and concluded unanimously that falling from such height and being impaled generally cause organs to “explode”. However, the man reportedly got up and looked for help. After the accident, hundreds of people in the Parish of Saumur prayed to Charles de Foucauld to intercede for the healing of the young man.

He was hospitalized for six days and returned to work within two months without suffering any physical or psychological side effects. Doctors concluded this incident could not be explained medically.

Five religious congregations, associations, and spiritual institutes—Little Brothers of Jesus, Little Sisters of the Sacred Heart, Little Sisters of Jesus, Little Brothers of the Gospel, and Little Sisters of the Gospel—draw inspiration from the peaceful, largely hidden, yet hospitable life that characterized Charles. He was beatified in 2005 and canonized in 2022.

Because he wanted his order to be “suitable for illiterate brothers,” he eliminated the requirement to pray the Divine Offices because they were in Latin, and replaced them with prayer, the Rosary, and five hours of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament.

On May 15th, 2022, Blessed Charles de Foucauld, along with nine others, was canonized in St. Peter’s Square by Pope Francis.

The life of Nazareth can be led anywhere, even in a place whose greatest advantage is in making us ready for the next place…provided that we are where Jesus wants us.

Whatever happens, I shall be perfectly satisfied. I could do no other than lose myself by merging with the divine will, I would prefer for myself total failure, perpetual solitude, nothing but setbacks. I do all I can in order to have companions by sanctifying myself in silence. If I had them, I would rejoice along with many worries. Not having them, I rejoice completely.

“The most important moment of our life is the moment of our death. We move closer toward this moment with each passing day.”

“Think often of death, so as to prepare for it and appraise things at their true value.”

Every cross, great or small, even small annoyances, are the voice of the Beloved. He is asking for a declaration of love from us to last while the suffering lasts.

Father, I abandon myself into your hands; do with me what you will. Whatever you may do, I thank you: I am ready for all, I accept all. Let only your will be done in me, and in all your creatures. I wish no more than this, O Lord. Into your hands I commend my soul; I offer it to you with all the love of my heart, for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself, to surrender myself into your hands, without reserve, and with boundless confidence, for you are my Father. Amen.

The Blessed Charles de Foucauld (1858-1916) took a photo of the Eucharistic Jesus while it was exposed on the altar. When the film was developed the attached picture of the Child Jesus appeared.

The picture portrays the innocent Child Jesus looking up to His loving Holy Father and praying on our behalf. The surrounding shows the Child Jesus in a poor carpenter’s work shop.

Sometime later, Jesus told the monk "I promise to send my Blessings and my Peace to each Home where this image is found."

My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love You! I ask pardon of You for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love You!.

O My Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of Thy mercy.

This prayer was revealed by Our Lord to Sr. Mary of St. Peter in 1843 as a reparation for blasphemy.

May the most holy, most sacred, most adorable,most incomprehensible and ineffable Name of God. be forever praised, blessed, loved, adored.


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