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Saint of the Day—available on the iPhone!

Saint of the Day
Catholic saints are holy people and human people who lived extraordinary lives. Each saint the Church honors responded to God's invitation to use his or her unique gifts. God calls each one of us to be a saint. Click here to receive Saint of the Day in your email.

December 1
Blessed Charles de Foucauld
1858-1916


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Born into an aristocratic family in Strasbourg, France, Charles was orphaned at the age of six, raised by his devout grandfather, rejected the Catholic faith as a teenager and joined the French army. Inheriting a great deal of money from his grandfather, Charles went to Algeria with his regiment, but not without his mistress, Mimi.

When he refused to give her up, he was dismissed from the army. Later he reenlisted in Algeria after he had left Mimi. He resigned from the army when he was refused permission to make a scientific exploration of nearby Morocco. With the help of a Jewish rabbi, Charles disguised himself as a Jew and in 1883 began a one-year exploration that he recorded in a book that was well received.

Inspired by the Jews and Muslims whom he met, when he returned to France he resumed the practice of his Catholic faith in 1886. He joined a Trappist monastery in Ardeche, France, and later transferred to one in Akbes, Syria. He left them and in 1897 began to work as gardener and sacristan for the Poor Clares nuns in Nazareth and later in Jerusalem. He returned to France and was ordained a priest in 1901.

Later that year he returned to Beni-Abbes, Morocco, intending to found a monastic religious community in North Africa, offering hospitality to Christians, Muslims, Jews or people with no religion. He lived a peaceful, hidden life but attracted no companions.

A former army comrade invited him to live among the Tuareg people in Algeria. Charles learned their language enough to write a Tuareg-French and French-Taureg dictionary and to translate the Gospels into Tuareg. In 1905 he came to Tamanrasset, where he lived the rest of his life. His two-volume collection of Tuareg poetry was published after his death.

In early 1909 he visited France and established an association of laypeople who pledged to live by the Gospels. His return to Tamanrasset was welcomed by the Tuareg. In 1915 he wrote to Louis Massignon: “The love of God, the love for one’s neighbor…All religion is found there…How to get to that point? Not in a day since it is perfection itself: it is the goal we must always aim for, which we must unceasingly try to reach and that we will only attain in heaven.”  

The outbreak of World War I led to attacks on the French in Algeria. Seized in a raid by another tribe, Charles and two French soldiers coming to visit him were shot to death on December 1, 1916.

Five religious congregations, associations and spiritual institutes (Little Brothers of Jesus, Little Sisters of the Sacred Heart, Little Sisters of Jesus, Little Brothers of the Gospel and Little Sisters of the Gospel) draw inspiration from the peaceful, largely hidden yet hospitable life that characterized Charles. He was beatified on November 13, 2005.



Comment:

The life of Charles de Foucauld was eventually centered on God and was animated by prayer and humble service, which he hoped would draw Muslims to Christ. Those who are inspired by his example, no matter where they live, seek to live their faith humbly yet with deep religious conviction.

Quote:

In his homily at the beatification Mass, Cardinal José Saraiva Martins noted that Charles chose as his motto, "Iesus Caritas, Jesus Love." In 1916 Charles wrote: "There is, I believe, a word from the Gospel that has a more profound impression on me nor has transformed my life more than this: 'Whatever you do for the least of my brothers, you do for me.' If we reflect that these words are those from the uncreated Truth, those from the mouth of He who said, 'This is my body...this is my blood,' what forces dives us to seek and to love Jesus in these 'least ones, these sinners, these poor ones.'"


Saint of the Day
Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.



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Benedict Joseph Labre: Benedict Joseph Labre was truly eccentric, one of God's special little ones. Born in France and the eldest of 18 children, he studied under his uncle, a parish priest. Because of poor health and a lack of suitable academic preparation he was unsuccessful in his attempts to enter the religious life. Then, at 16 years of age, a profound change took place. Benedict lost his desire to study and gave up all thoughts of the priesthood, much to the consternation of his relatives. 
<p>He became a pilgrim, traveling from one great shrine to another, living off alms. He wore the rags of a beggar and shared his food with the poor. Filled with the love of God and neighbor, Benedict had special devotion to the Blessed Mother and to the Blessed Sacrament. In Rome, where he lived in the Colosseum for a time, he was called "the poor man of the Forty Hours Devotion" and "the beggar of Rome." The people accepted his ragged appearance better than he did. His excuse to himself was that "our comfort is not in this world." </p><p>On the last day of his life, April 16, 1783, Benedict Joseph dragged himself to a church in Rome and prayed there for two hours before he collapsed, dying peacefully in a nearby house. Immediately after his death the people proclaimed him a saint. </p><p>He was officially proclaimed a saint by Pope Leo XIII at canonization ceremonies in 1883.</p> American Catholic Blog Today offers limitless possibilities for holiness. Lean into His grace. The only thing keeping us from sainthood is ourselves.

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