Blessed Charles Eugène de Foucauld (Strasbourg, 15 September 1858 – Tamanrasset, 1 December 1916) was a religious leader who inspired the founding of the Little Brothers of Jesus. He was assassinated by a jihadist of the Senussi sufi order in 1916, at the door of his retreat in the Algerian Sahara.
Born in Strasbourg on September 15, 1858, he grew up in an aristocratic family and entered the Saint-Cyr Military Academy in 1876. He later was a French army officer in Algeria but left the army in 1882 and went as an explorer to Morocco.
In 1890 he joined the Trappist order, but left in 1897 to follow an as yet undefined religious vocation. He returned to Algeria and lived a virtually eremetical life. He first settled in Beni Abbes, near the Moroccan border, building a small hermitage for ‘adoration and hospitality’, which soon became the ‘Fraternity’. For Charles wished to be, and was seen to be, a “brother” to each and every visitor, whatever their religion, ethnic origin or social status. Later he moved to be with the Touareg people, in Tamanghasset in southern Algeria. This region is the central part of the Sahara with the Ahaggar Mountains (the Hoggar) immediately west of there. Charles used the highest point, the Assekrem, as a place of retreat. Living close to the Touareg, and sharing their life and hardships, he made a ten-year study of their language and cultural traditions. He learned the language and worked on a dictionary and grammar. His dictionary manuscript was published posthumously in 4 volumes and has become known among Berberologues for its rich and apt descriptions. He formulated the idea of founding a new religious order, which only became a reality after his death, under the name of the Little Brothers of Jesus. (See also: Louis Massignon)
He was shot to death by passing Muslim insurgents of the Senussi order on December 1 1916 in his Tamanrasset compound against the general background of uprising against the French colonial power and the world war. He was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI on November 13, 2005 and is considered a martyr of the Church.
Though Charles died alone and without the immediate fellowship of others sharing his practice of the life of "Jesus at Nazareth" and hospitality in the desert of Algeria, he was successful at inspiring and help to organize a "confraternity" within France to support his idea. This organization called the Association of the Brothers and Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus consisted of lay and ordained members totaling 48 people at the time of his death. It was this group and specifically the efforts of Louis Massignon, the world famous scholar of Islam, and a best selling biography written by René Bazin in 1921 - "La vie de Charles de Foucauld explorateur en Maroc, eremite du Sahara" - who kept his intuitions alive and inspired the family of lay and religious "fraternities" that include: Jesus Caritas, the Little Brothers of Jesus, the Little Sisters of Jesus among a total of 18 different congregations. . Though originally French in origin, these groups have expanded to include many cultures and languages on all continents.
Two members of the Contemplative Missionary Movement of Charles de Foucauld, Sr. Maria Teresa Olivero, 60, and Sr. Caterina Giraudo, 67, have been held captive since Nov. 9 by an unidentified Somalian militia group.(PEOPLE)(Brief article)
Feb 20, 2009; Two members of the Contemplative Missionary Movement of Charles de Foucauld, Sr. Maria Teresa Olivero, 60, and Sr. Caterina...