Algeria – in the steps of Charles de Foucauld
The challenge of maintaining a female Christian presence in Tamanrasset
On 27 May this year, Pope Francis recognised the attribution of a second miracle to Blessed Charles de Foucauld (1858-1916), thereby paving the way for his canonisation. Murdered in Tamanrasset in the south of Algeria, deep in the Sahara, this celebrated French hermit and former cavalry officer, converted radically at the age of 28 and thereafter lived a contemplative life abandoned to the will of the Father and centred on the Eucharist.
Sr. Martine Devriendt with children from Tamanrasset.
Photographer: Petites Sœurs du Sacré-Cœur de Ch. de Foucauld
Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.
At the age of 32 he became a Trappist monk, then seven years later left the Cistercian life and worked for three years in Nazareth as a general handyman for the Poor Clare nuns. He divided his time between manual work, Eucharistic adoration and meditating on Scripture, especially on the Hidden Life of Jesus in Nazareth, deciding to imitate Him in his silence and discretion. He later felt called to become a priest in order to be able to reach those in very remotest regions. Ordained on 9 June 1901, he settled first in southern Morocco in Beni-Abbès. Here he built, not so much a hermitage, but a fraternity, a Khaoua, a place open to all, whether Christians, Muslims or Jews. Always attentive to the poor, ransoming slaves, offering hospitality to all who passed by, he divided his time between long hours of prayer (especially at night), manual and agricultural labour and hospitality towards all who visited.