Blessed Charles de Foucauld was born into an aristocratic family in Strasbourg, France. When he was a teenager, Charles distanced himself from the faith and claimed that he no longer believed in God. In 1876, Charles joined the French army and was sent to Algeria. His experience in the army inspired him to take up travel and exploration. Charles set out for a one-year exploration expedition to Morocco. Because Europeans were forbidden in Morocco, Charles disguised himself as a Jew.
When he returned to France, he felt a strong interior grace to go back to Church. He would spend long hours there repeating this strange prayer: “My God, if you exist, allow me to know you!” Eventually, Charles felt the call to leave everything and follow Jesus. He became a Trappist monk, and after 7 years, Charles left the monastery and worked as a gardener and sacristan for the Poor Clare nuns in Nazareth, and then later in Jerusalem. At the age of 43, he returned to France and was ordained a priest. Later that year Charles journeyed to Beni-Abbes, Morocco, to serve among the Tuareg people, a nomadic ethnic group. He was deeply respectful of the faiths and cultures he lived among and became a “brother” to the people. De Foucauld was the inspiration for the founding of several lay associations, religious communities, and secular institutes of laity and priests. He was assassinated by a band of men at his hermitage in the Sahara on Dec. 1, 1916. On May 26, 2020, Pope Francis approved a second miracle attributed to de Foucauld’s intercession, paving the way for his canonization.