Blessed Charles de Foucauld and 6 Others to Be Canonized May 15

Blessed Charles de Foucauld was a dissolute French soldier who became a Trappist monk and Catholic missionary to Muslims in Algeria.

Blessed Charles de Foulcauld
Blessed Charles de Foulcauld (photo: Public domain)

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican on Tuesday announced that the canonization of Blessed Charles de Foucauld and six others will take place in Rome on May 15, 2022.

The date of the canonization had been delayed due to the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, Blessed Foucauld’s postulator told CNA last month.

The May 15 ceremony will be the Catholic Church’s first canonization Mass since the start of the coronavirus outbreak — it will take place two years and seven months after the most recent canonization, that of St. John Henry Newman and four others in October 2019.

Bl. Charles de Foucauld was a dissolute French soldier who became a Trappist monk and Catholic missionary to Muslims in Algeria. Known as Brother Charles of Jesus, he was killed in 1916 at the age of 58.

After his reversion to the Catholic faith, Foucauld wanted to imitate the life of Jesus, and spent his last 13 years living among the Muslim Tuareg people, a nomadic ethnic group, in the desert of French-occupied Algeria.

Pope Francis approved a miracle obtained through Blessed Foucauld’s intercession in May 2020, and the Church’s cardinals signed off on his and six other canonizations during a Vatican consistory one year later.

With Blessed Foucauld, Pope Francis will also canonize Devasahayam Pillai, a layman from India who was martyred after converting from Hinduism to Catholicism in the 18th century.

Pillai, who is also known by his baptismal name of Lazarus, was beatified in 2012 in southern India. He will be the first lay Catholic in India to be declared a saint.

Seven years after his conversion, Pillai was killed at the age of 40 by gunshot, after he had been falsely accused of treason, arrested, and tortured for three years.

Two religious sisters will also be canonized on May 15: the foundress of the Capuchin Tertiary Sisters of Loano Blessed Maria Francesca di Gesù, and the co-foundress and first general superior of the Institute of the Little Sisters of the Holy Family Bl. Maria Domenica Mantovani.

Blessed César de Bus, Blesssed Luigi Maria Palazzolo, and Blessed Giustino Maria Russolillo, three priests who founded religious congregations and institutes, will also be declared saints.

In October, Father Bernard Ardura, the postulator of Blessed Foucauld’s cause, told CNA that the canonization would likely take place next spring.

The Vatican was waiting for the global situation with COVID-19 to improve before it scheduled the event, Father Ardura explained, noting that thousands of people from countries such as the United States, Canada, France, and Algeria traveled to Rome for Foucauld’s beatification in 2005.

“Canonizations are not for the saints, they are for us,” the priest said. “Because for them it changes nothing. It changes nothing for them. It is for us. It is a great ecclesial act.”

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