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Rome Reports

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Charles de Foucauld: from a desert priest to a celebrated saint

Charles de Foucauld was a French priest who abandoned a life of wealth to live in the Algerian desert with the local community.

Although he lived on the margins of society for most of his priestly ministry, today some 20 congregations and other religious groups have taken inspiration by his life and spirituality. 

That's because despite living among the most poor and neglected, he maintained close ties to communities in France and elsewhere who drew inspiration from his example.

Postulater for the cause of sainthood
We think that he was a hermit, that he didn't see anyone, and that doesn't match with the reality.

We have thousands and thousands of letters from Charles de Foucauld who had a whole network of correspondents, and this explains, in part, how only ten years after his death the application to begin his canonization is opened.

Since most miracles leading to canonizations are miraculous healings, Fr. Bernard says that the second miracle attributed to de Foucauld's intercession was quite unusual. 

It entailed an unbaptized 21-year-old construction worker named Charles who fell over 50 feet while working on the roof of a chapel in 2016. 

The incident took place in the town where de Foucauld once lived on the eve of the hundredth anniversary of his death. Doctors said there was no medical way to explain how he survived.

Postulater for the cause of sainthood
With this coincidence, of the timing, the place, and this young man, who is named Charles and is not baptized, we recognized that this grace, this miracle, was from God through the intercession of Blessed Charles de Foucauld, who with this will be proclaimed a saint.

Although de Foucauld died more than 100 years ago, Fr. Bernard says the example of his life, engaging with people of other faiths and tending to those who are neglected, remains relevant today.

Postulater for the cause of sainthood
Charles de Foucauld teaches us that we must have our hearts and minds very open, very open to everyone. But also that also to have a dialogue with life, our Christian identity must be strong.

A revolutionary in his own way, Charles de Foucauld's life shows that sainthood can be found anywhere, even in the desert.