Born to a noble family, a tragic childhood, worldly preoccupations, a loss of faith, and then . . .
Charles de Foucauld’s life changed in 1886 with a powerful conversion experience, but this was just another step in a journey with God that was already underway. Charles later realized that God had always been with him:
“O my God! How surely you had your hand on me, and how little I felt it! You are so good, you took such good care of me! How closely you were keeping me under your wings, while I didn’t even believe you existed!”
In the years that followed, Charles sought nothing but to live for God alone. He desired to imitate the hidden life of Jesus in Nazareth, and this ultimately led him to the Sahara and an apostolate of friendship as a “universal brother.”
Charles de Foucauld will be canonized a saint on May 15, 2022. Here is a look at important dates in his life, a life which traveled a circuit between his native France, the Holy Land, and North Africa.
September 15, 1858 – Born in Strasbourg, France
1864 – Orphaned, taken in by maternal grandparents
1876 – Enters Saint-Cyr military academy; acquires the nickname “Piggy” for his self-indulgent lifestyle
1878 – Enters cavalry school at Saumur
1881 – Serves in Algeria
1882 – Leaves the army
1883-84 – Explores Morocco in disguise (the country is closed to Christian Europeans)
1885 – Receives the Gold Medal from the Geographical Society of Paris
Late October 1886 – Seeks counsel from Fr. Henri Huvelin in Paris; has conversion experience
1888-89 – Pilgrimage to the Holy Land
1890 – Becomes a Trappist monk at Notre Dame des Neiges in France; a few months later, seeking greater asceticism, he transfers to a monastery in Syria, Notre Dame de Sacré Coeur
1897 – With permission from the abbot, leaves the Trappists
1897 – Wanting to live the “hidden life” of Jesus, becomes a handyman for a convent of Poor Clare nuns in Nazareth
1900 – Returns to France to study for the priesthood
June 9, 1901 – Ordained a priest for the Diocese of Viviers
1901 – Receives permission to return to Algeria, settles in Béni-Abbès; begins ministry of prayer, charity, and friendship to all
1905 – Travels hundreds of miles south to Tamanrasset, a rugged, desolate land; builds a place to live, becomes known as a marabout (holy man)
1915 – Due to the unrest following the outbreak of World War I, builds a small fort in Tamanrasset to protect the local people from pillagers
December 1, 1916 – Shot and killed by a raider at the gate of his fort
1921 – First biography is written
1927 – Cause for beatification begins
November 13, 2005 – Beatified by Pope Benedict XVI
May 15, 2022 – Canonized by Pope Francis
The canonization Mass is scheduled to be televised on EWTN on Sunday, May 15, 2022, at 4:00 AM (live) and again at 12 noon.
Below is a picture gallery depicting the life of Charles. Click on each picture for a larger image.