In a consistory held on Monday, May 3, Pope Francis approved the canonization of seven men and women, the most prominent among them Blessed Charles de Foucauld, a French priest, scholar, hermit, and missionary to Algeria.
Bl. Charles was born in 1858 in Strasbourg, France. Orphaned at age six, Charles abandoned the faith as a teenager and led a dissolute and extravagant life as a young adult in the French military after receiving a good deal of money from an inheritance when his grandfather, who raised him, died. He left the military and traveled through Morocco disguised as a Jew. He wrote a book about his experience, which garnered him a good amount of praise and fame, as well as a medal from the Societe de Geographie. Inspired by the fervent faith of the Muslim of Morocco, Charles returned to his own Catholic faith, joining the Trappists in 1890. He eventually longed to live an even stricter and more eremitic life and left the Trappists in 1897 to become a hermit in Palestine. He was ordained a priest back in France in 1901 and, from there, moved to the desert of Algeria to continue the life of a hermit. While in Algeria, he lived among the Tuareg people and studied their language and culture. His book about the Tuareg language and culture was published posthumously and is still used by scholars studying the Berber people of north Africa. In December 1916, Charles was kidnapped and killed by a group of Bedouins. Charles also wrote on spirituality and helped form a congregation in France inspired by his spirituality. According to his Wikipedia page, Blessed Charles’ spiritual works would inspire the formation of “ten religious congregations and nine associations of spiritual life,” among these the Little Brothers of Jesus and the Little Sisters of Jesus.
Also among the seven to be canonized is Blessed Devasahayam Pillai, an 18th century layman and convert from Hinduism who was martyred for refusing to deny the faith. Born in 1712, Neelakanda Pillai was an upper-caste Hindu who became a soldier of the Hindu king. He converted to Catholicism and was baptized in 1745, taking the name Devasahayam, a Tamil version of Lazarus. He shared his faith with others and converted his wife as well as other Hindus, which won the wrath of Hindu officials. Pillai was arrested for his “crime” and sentenced to be executed, but the Hindu king reduced his sentence to imprisonment. While in prison, he was regularly tortured, beaten and subjected to humiliation for his faith in Christ. In 1752, his captors took him out to the jungle and executed him. Bl. Devasahayam will be the first Catholic layman of India to be canonized.
Here is a summary of the lives of the five others who will be canonized, taken from the article from Crux linked above:
— Blessed César de Bus, the France-born founder of the Fathers of Christian Doctrine, a religious congregation dedicated to education, pastoral ministry and catechesis. Born in 1544, he died in 1607.
— Blessed Luigi Maria Palazzolo, an Italian priest and founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Poor. He was beatified by St. John XXIII in 1963. The sainthood causes of six members of the order who died in Congo in 1995 caring for victims of Ebola also are underway.
— Blessed Giustino Maria Russolillo, an Italian priest who founded the Society of Divine Vocations for men and the Vocationist Sisters. He was born in 1891 and died in 1955.
— Blessed Anna Maria Rubatto, founder of the order now known as the Capuchin Sisters of Mother Rubatto. She was born in Carmagnola, Italy, in 1844 and died in Montevideo, Uruguay, in 1904.
— Blessed Maria Domenica Mantovani, co-founder and first superior general of the Little Sisters of the Holy Family. Born in 1862 in Castelletto di Brenzone, Italy, she dedicated her life to serving the poor and needy as well as assisting the sick and the elderly. She died in 1934.
All holy men and women, pray for us.
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.