This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

December 1 -- Feast of Blessed Charles de Foucauld

Charles de Foucauld seemed to have the sort of life that would lend itself of a Hollywood biopic.  An officer in the French army, he was stationed in the North African colonies.  When he left the service, he experienced a conversion experience that led him to a Trappist monastery in Syria.  From there, he returned to North Africa, setting up a hermitage for himself. 

He began to work with the Tuareg people, learning the Berber language, writing a four-volume Berber-French dictionary, and administering medicine and other help where he could.  Yet he did not "go native" in the sense of being anti-colonial (one predictable vector for a bioepic film).  Although he made his own sandals and wore a turban, he remained at ease with the Europeans.  Traveling with a military caravan, shuffling along behind the horses, he shared his medicines with soldiers.  A general decided to put the ex-military monk to a test by inviting him to the evening party.  The drinking, swearing, and coarse jokes did not put him off in the slightest -- he held his own with the best.  Then in the morning, he got up early for Mass, as did the general who was testing him.  The general later commented that he had not been to such an inspiring Mass in his whole life. 

By 1916, World War I was in full gore and the anti-colonialism was rising among the natives.  On December 1, Bedouin raiders shot Blessed Charles outside his desert hut.  There was nothing much to be gained by the killing, but one more dead European must have seemed like progress to them. 

The Little Brothers and Sisters of Jesus (not to be confused with the Little Sisters of the Poor), was created from his model.  At the time of his death, it had forty-eight members.  Today, there are a few hundred members, living in pairs or trios, serving the poor in more than forty countries. 

No comments:

Post a Comment