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Sainthood cleared for Charles de Foucauld

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Blessed Charles de Foucauld

20th century contemplative inspired two religious congregations

Pope Francis advanced the sainthood causes of two women and 11 men, including a miracle attributed to Blessed Charles de Foucauld.

In a meeting on 27 May with Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, the pope also authorised decrees recognising miracles attributed to Blessed Cesar de Bus, founder of the Fathers of Christian Doctrine, and Blessed Maria Domenica Mantovani, co-founder and superior general of the Little Sisters of the Holy Family.

The pope’s recognition of the miracles ascribed to Blesseds de Foucauld, de Bus and Mantovani clear the way for their canonisation.

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Born in Strasbourg, France, in 1858, Blessed de Foucauld lost his faith during his adolescence. However, during a trip to Morocco, he saw how Muslims expressed their faith, so he returned to the church.

His rediscovery of his Christian faith prompted him to join Trappist monasteries for seven years in France and Syria, before choosing to live a life of prayer and adoration alone.

Father Gabriele Faraghini, left, a member of the Little Brothers of Jesus, is pictured with Archbishop Angelo De Donatis, the papal vicar for Rome, in this undated photo. Members of the order founded by Blessed Charles de Foucauld, usually do not hold positions in diocesan institutions, but live in small communities and often have jobs involving manual labor. PHOTO: CNS/courtesy of the Little Brothers of Jesus

After his ordination to the priesthood in 1901, he chose to live among the poor and finally settled in Tamanrasset, Algeria, until 1916, when he was killed by a band of marauders.

Although he lived several centuries before Blessed de Foucauld, Blessed de Bus was born in France and, like his compatriot, also lived his early adulthood away from his faith.

After returning to the church, he entered the priesthood and was ordained in 1582. Ten years later, he founded the Fathers of Christian Doctrine, a religious congregation dedicated to education, pastoral ministry and catechesis. He died in Avignon, France, in 1607.

From the age of 15, Blessed Mantovani, born in 1862 in Castelletto di Brenzone, Italy, played an active role in her parish. Her spiritual director, Father Giuseppe Nascimbeni, encouraged her to teach catechism and visit the sick.

In 1892, Blessed Mantovani co-founded the Little Sisters of the Holy Family with Father Nascimbeni and became the congregation’s first superior general. During her time leading the congregation, she dedicated her life to serving the poor and needy as well as assisting the sick and the elderly.

After her death in 1934, the Little Sisters of the Holy Family spread throughout Europe, Africa and South America.

The other decrees approved by Pope Francis May 27 recognised:

— The miracle needed for the beatification of Father Michael McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus. He was born in 1852 and died in 1890.

— The miracle needed for the beatification of Venerable Pauline-Marie Jaricot, foundress of the Society of the Propagation of the Faith and of the Association of the Living Rosary. She was born in 1799 and died in 1862.

— The martyrdom of Cistercian Friar Simon Cardon and five companions, who were killed in 1799 by French soldiers during the Napoleonic Wars.

— The martyrdom of Franciscan Father Cosma Spessotto, who was killed by assassins in San Juan Nonualco, El Salvador, in 1980, several months after St Oscar Romero was killed.

— The heroic virtues of French Bishop Melchior-Marie-Joseph de Marion-Bresillac, founder of the Society of African Missions. He was born in 1813 in Castelnaudary, France, and died in 1859 in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

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