05/03/2021, 13.35
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Pope announces canonization of 'universal brother' Charles de Foucauld

The planned announcement in today's ordinary public consistory for the canonization of the blessed. Francis in the encyclical Fratelli tutti indicates him as heir to the legacy and dream of Francis of Assisi.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Charles de Foucauld, the apostle of the desert, will be proclaimed saint, the "universal brother" indicated by Pope Francis in the encyclical Fratelli tutti as heir to the legacy and dream of Francis of Assisi.

Today, in fact, the Pope presided over the ordinary public consistory for the canonization of the blessed: Lazarus, called Devasahayam, lay, martyr; César de Bus, priest, founder of the Congregation of the Fathers of Christian Doctrine; Luigi Maria Palazzolo, priest, founder of the Institute of the Poverelle Sisters - Palazzolo Institute; Giustino Maria Russolillo, priest, founder of the Society of Divine Vocations and of the Congregation of the Sisters of Divine Vocations; Charles de Foucauld, diocesan priest; Maria Francesca di Gesù (born Anna Maria Rubatto), founder of the Capuchin Tertiary Sisters of Loano; Maria Domenica Mantovani, co-founder and first superior general of the Institute of the Little Sisters of the Holy Family.

Charles de Foucauld was born in Strasbourg, France, on September 15, 1858. Orphaned at the age of 6, he was raised together with his sister Marie by his grandfather. In adolescence he distanced himself from the faith, but during an exploration in Morocco (1883-1884), the testimony of the faith of Muslims led him to say: "My God, if you exist, let me know you".

On returning to France, he asked a priest to instruct him and in October 1886 he said: "As I believed there was a God, I understood that I could not help but live for Him alone". A pilgrimage to the Holy Land revealed his vocation to him: to follow and imitate Jesus in the life of Nazareth. He lived for 7 years with the Trappist order, first in Our Lady of the Snows, then in Akbès in Syria. Later he lived alone, in prayer, with the Poor Clares of Nazareth.

Ordained a priest at the age of 43 (1901), in the diocese of Viviers, he went to the Algerian Sahara desert, first to Beni Abbès, then further south to Tamanrasset with the Hoggar Tuaregs. He lived a life of prayer, meditation and adoration, in the incessant desire to be, for each person, a "universal brother", a living image of the love of Jesus. On the evening of December 1, 1916, he was killed by a band of marauders.

“God - he wrote - builds on nothing. It is with his death that Jesus saved the world; it is with the nothingness of the apostles that he founded the Church; it is with holiness and in the nothingness of human means that heaven is conquered and faith is spread”.

Benedict XVI proclaimed him blessed in 2005.

Bernard Ardura, president of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences writes: “Charles carried out an immense scientific and cultural work, but always in the perspective of mission. Indeed, Charles, who did not found any religious congregation, is convinced of the need for missionaries of "evangelical deforestation", isolated missionaries able to get close to all souls far from the truth and from Catholic life. For him, these missionaries, lay people and priests, will have to attend to the perfection of Christians, in order to work alongside others, because “these listen less to words and look at facts, the life of Christians, their conduct, the examples they offer. The life of virtuous Christians brings them closer to Christianity »”.

Today, in fact, there are many groups, religious families who are inspired by Charles de Foucauld, whom the Pope, in the encyclical "Fratelli tutti ", proposes as a model, speaking of the "dream" of the monk to become "brother of all", fulfilled by "identifying with the least".

Again Francis, in December 2016 at the end of a mass celebrated in Santa Marta for the future saint, said that he was "a man who has overcome many resistances and gave a witness that has done the Church good". For this reason, "we ask that he bless us from heaven and help us". (FP)

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