Here is Sr. Virginia’s story about her trip to Rome for the canonization of Charles de Foucauld. Our hearts couldn’t be happier that God in His great mercy allowed Sister to represent us.
Our pilgrimage to Rome was organized by Father Leonard Tighe. He has been involved for many years with the Lay Fraternities of Saint Charles, striving to spread information about Charles de Foucauld’s life and spirituality. Father Tighe has also led many tours in Italy and the Holy Land.
There were eleven in our group – nine men including four priests, and a retired nurse who roomed with me at the hotel. After splitting up into smaller groups to explore the wonders of Rome during the day, we dined together in the evening at a good, inexpensive restaurant with outdoor tables. The waiters didn’t seem to mind that we lingered long into the lovely evenings. There was a kindly spirit of friendship among the people in our group. And the breadth and depth of their knowledge of the Church and Brother Charles were impressive.
The canonization, which took place on Sunday, May 15, in front of Saint Peter’s Basilica, was a grand and festive event. Saint Peter’s square was filled with people from every continent, many of them wearing emblems connected with one of the candidates for sainthood. Huge images of these brand-new saints were hung on the façade of the basilica.
Pope Francis said of Brother Charles: “The new Saint lived his Christian existence as a brother to all, starting from the smallest. He did not have the aim of converting others, but of living God’s freely given love, putting into effect ‘the apostolate of goodness.’ Brother Charles, in the hardships and poverty of the desert, remarked: ‘My soul is always in joy.’ . . . Dear sisters and brothers, may Our Lady grant you to cherish and nourish the same joy, because joy is the clearest witness we can give to Jesus in every place and at every time.”
On Thursday three of us went early to explore Saint Peter’s Basilica. It is vast with enormous marble columns of many colors, and filled with gigantic figures and murals and paintings. Yet there is a tenderness within the grandeur, each work of art filled with love and longing. Small gatherings were celebrating Masses in side chapels with sweet voices singing in different languages. Shafts of cool morning light flowed down from Heaven, the marble floors were the colors of precious stones, giant angels gazed down from the tops of pillars, and everywhere we saw magnificent images of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of Jesus Christ, coming in love and power – beautiful, active, dynamic, merciful.
Father Tighe told us that, after Charles’ life-changing reversion to the Catholic faith, he wrote out the four Gospels entirely, in longhand. “He wanted to know everything about Jesus so he could know everything about God,” Father said. “Foucauld is a window into Jesus Christ of Nazareth.”
Followers of the spirituality of Charles de Foucauld displayed orange scarves to identify themselves. Here is a group of nuns on their way to the canonization. I am not sure, but they might be Little Sisters of the Consolation of the Sacred Heart and the Holy Face.
On Sunday, May 15, 2022, ten people were canonized by Pope Francis in Saint Peter’s square, in front of the magnificent Saint Peter’s Basilica. Charles de Foucauld is pictured at the bottom of the third panel from the left.
A thanksgiving mass honoring Saint Charles was held the next day at the splendid basilica of Saint John Lateran. Founded in 324, it is the oldest public church in the city of Rome, and the oldest basilica of the Western world.
We did some sightseeing around Rome, including the Trevi Fountain. Here are my kind and resourceful roommate, Susan Trzcienski, Father Lenny Tighe who led the pilgrimage, and me carrying a bag we were all given bearing the image of Charles de Foucauld, which, along with Father’s t-shirt, attracted other Brother Charles followers as we walked around the city.
Sr. Virginia was able to visit Assisi and she hopes to write about that too. Check back soon for an update to this post. For more information on St. Charles, please see The Timeline of a Saint and Brother Charles on our website.