The following potted history
is translated from the book "Charles de Foucauld et la
fratenité" by Denise and Robert Barrat.
15 Sept 1858.
Born Charles Eugenie de Foucauld in Strasbourg.
1864 Already orphans, Charles
and his sister Mary are looked after by their grandfather.
1870-71 The grandfather registers
them both as French subjects following the French-German war.
1872-75 Studied at Nancy and Paris
under the Jesuits.
1876 Admitted to St-Cyr Military
1878 Became a sub Lieutenant at
Saumur Military Academy.
1880 His regiment, the 4th Hussars
was sent to Setif in Algeria, giving him his first taste of
Mar 1881 Discharged with deprivation
of office for "indiscipline with flagrant misconduct".
Retired to Evian and lived there "with the vague disquiet
that comes from a bad conscience that, although fast asleep,
is not quite dead".
May 1881 Revolt of Bon Mama in
the South Oran region. Reinstated in the army at his own request,
took part in 8 month campaign. The Arabs made a profound impression
on him. When the insurrection was over, he asked for leave to
take a journey to the south to study the Arabs. Not having obtained
permission, he resigned and moved to Algiers to prepare his
journey to Morocco.
25 June 1883 After 15 months of
meticulous preparation during which he learnt Arabic and Hebrew,
Foucauld, aged 25, made a reconnaissance trip to Morocco.
May 1885 Received Gold Medal of
French Geographic Society.
Sept 1885 - Jan 1886 Exploration
in southern Algeria and Southern Tunisia. This itinerary took
him to Tiaret (Oran region), Gabes (Tunisia) via Laghouat, Ghardaia
and the Mzab, El Golea, Ouargla, Touggourt, the Souf, Nefta,
Feb 1886 He went to live in Paris,
50 rue de Miromesnil, to prepare his work "Reconnaissance
au Maroc" which came out in 1888.
No bed in the flat: Charles de Foucauld slept on a carpet, wrapped
in a burnous. His soul aspired to find God. Went into Churches
and one day made this prayer: "God, if you exist, make
yourself known unto me."
End Oct 1888 In the church of
St. Augustin, made his confession and received communion from
the hand of L'Abbe Huvelin, to whom he was sent by Mme de Bondy.
"As soon as I believed there was a God, I understood I
could do nothing else but live for him, my religious vocation
dates from the same moment as my faith: God is so great. There
is such a difference between God and everything that is not."
Nov 1888 - Feb 1889 Pilgrimage
to the Holy Land, visited all Holy Places and stayed twice in
1889 4 closed retreats - Benedictines,
(Solesmes), the Great Trappist monastery at Soligny, Notre-Dames
de Neiges (Ardeche) and at the villa Manrese (Clamart) with
16 Jan 1890 Into Trappist monastery
of Notre Dames-des-Neiges. Took name of Brother Marie-Alberic.
"Pray for me, I shall pray for you, for your family,"
he wrote to his sister Marie, "You don't forget yourself
when you come closer to God".
June 1890 Left for the Trappist
monastery of Akbes in Syria.
July 1891 After having resigned
in 1891 from the Geographical Society, Brother Marie Alberique
also renounced his role as reserve officer. "This act gives
me pleasure; on Jan 15 I left everything good behind, but there
remained those wretched embarrassment, my rank, my little fortune,
and it gives me pleasure to throw them out of the window."
Feb 1892 Frère Alberic
took his vows and wore the tonsure. He began to wonder if he
could realise in the Trappist order his ideal of poverty, abjections
and penitence. "If they speak to me of studying, I shall
explain that I have a keen taste for staying up to my neck in
corn and wood and an extreme repugnance for everything that
might tend to distance me from this last place, to which I came
in abjection and into which I desire to sink further and further,
following the example of our Lord - and then in the end I would
Sept - Oct 1893 In his correspondence
he formulated for the first time the idea of a new congregation
of monks living solely from the work of their bands and living
truly the life of our Lord of Nazareth.
June 1896 Drafting his first plan
for a Religious Congregation.
Oct 1896 After a month's stay
in the Trappist monastery of Straoueli, Brother Marie-Alberic
was sent to Rome where he was supposed to study for 3 years.
After 3 months, the Rev. Gen. Father released him from his vows
and gave him the liberty to follow his vocation according to
his own lights.
14 Feb 1897 Embarked at Brindisi
for Holy Land.
May 1897 Taken on incognito -
or so he imagined - as the servant of the Clarisses in Nazareth.
1898 Accomplished two journeys
on foot to Jerusalem.
1900 Father Marie-Alberic wanted
to buy the Mount of the Beatitudes so he could live there as
a hermit priest. Plan did not work out.
Aug 1900 Returned to France, decided
to prepare for priesthood.
9 June 1901 Ordained priest at
Seminary at Viviers.
5 Sept 1901 Remaining "free
priest" of Viviers diocese, was authorised to live alone,
or with others in Diocese of the Sahara. He chose to live in
the South of the Oran region, near Moroccan border, with the
aim or preparing the evangelization of Morocco.
29 Oct 1901 Brother Charles of
Jesus celebrated mass for 1st time at Beni-Abbes and bought
a piece of land on which to build a fraternity.
9 Jan 1902 Bought ("redeemed"?)
1st slave, whom he called Joseph du Sacre-Coeur. Much of 1902
was devoted to an exchange of correspondence with Mgr. Guerin,
Apostolic Prefet of the Sahara, on the subject of slavery.
7 May 1902 Battle of Tit won by
Lt. Cottenest against Touareg tribes.
14 Aug 1902 Solemn baptism of
Abel-Jesus (Slave of Jesus), little black boy of 3½ bought
14 Sept 1902 Purchase of 2 slaves,
one a young man of 15, Paul Embarek, who would later witness
his death at Tamanrasset.
1903 Father de Foucauld dreamt
of making journeys to Morocco and setting up a Fraternity there.
Wanted to be joined by companions of whom he would ask "three
things: 1) be ready to have head cut off 2) be ready to die
of starvation 3) to obey him in spite of his worthlessness"
June 1903 As impossible to go
to Morocco, reveals to l'Abbe-Huvelin, Monsigneur Cuerin and
Commandant Laperrine his plan to evangelize Tuareg (country).
Jan 1904-05 Accompanied by military
columns who moved around the desert, made contact with population
of southern and central Sahara. Journey took him to Beni-Abbes,
In Salah, Aoulef, El Golea, Ghardaia. During travels learnt
Tamachek (Tuareg language) and undertook translations of Gospels
into this language.
April 1905 Finished his meditations
on the Holy Gospels
May 1905 Authorised by Abbe Huvelin
and Mgr. Guerin to take part in journey to the Hoggar.
June 1905 In Ouzzel, on road to
Tamanrasset, made acquaintance of Moussa Ag Axuastane, amenokal
of the Ahaggar tribe.
Aug 1905 Mission arrived at Tamanrasset.
Father began by living in a 'zeriba' (reed hut such as Hoggar
inhabitants still build). Then built house in brick and dried
mud. Decided to live there few months and to spend each year:
3 months at Beni-Abbes, 6 at Tamanrasset, 3 months coming and
Sept-Nov 1906 Journey back to
Beni-Abbes General Lyautey paid him a visit.
Dec 1906 At Maison Carree, headquarters
of 'White Fathers', Peres Blancs, Mgr. Guerin gave him a companion,
Father Michel. Also authorised him to display Holy Sacrament
whenever 2 worshippers present for at least 3 hours.
25 Dec 1906 Christmas at Beni-Abbes.
Jan 1907 The 2 monks left again
for Hoggar. Father Michael's health not up to journey, left
Father de Foucauld at In Salah. Latter joined Arnaud-Cortier
mission, stayed a while in Tamanrasset, in April 1907, then
travelled in Tanezrouft and Eastern Adrar for a new "taming"
July 1907-Xmas 1908 2nd stay in
Tamanrasset, during which resumed regular, monastic life. 11
hours work a day on editing Tamachek lexicon and grammar.
31 Jan 1908 Obtained authorization
to celebrate mass without server.
Nov 1908 Finished translation
of Tuareg poetry (6000 lines).
Dec 1908- March 1909 At request
of family, 1st stay in France. Mgr. Bonnet, Bishop of Viviers,
and Mgr. Livinhac, Father Superior of Peres Blancs, approved
statutes of "The Union of Brothers and Sisters of the Sacre-Coeur"
Sacred Heart - a "pious union for the evangelization of
18 Mar 1909 On way back stopped
at El Abiodh Sidi Chelkh. 1st fraternity founded there in 1933.
June 1909- Jan 1911 3rd stay at
May 1910 Learned of death of Mgr.
Guerin, aged 37. Commented "Alas yes, it is a great loss
for me; but one must not be selfish, it is right that the saints
receive their reward"
May 1911 - April 1913 4th stay
at Tamanrasset. Continued Lexicon.
13 Dec 1911 At Asekrem, wrote
his will: "I wish to be buried in the place where I die
and to remain there until the Resurrection. I forbid that my
body be transported elsewhere, that I be taken from the spot
where the Good Lord has had me finish my pilgrimage".
1912 Conquest of Morocco by Gouraud,
Apr-Nov 1913 Père de Foucault
took Ouksem Ag Chikkat, chief of Tribe of Dag Rali (to France).
Sept 1914 On hearing news of declaration
of war in Europe, wrote to Mme. de Bondy, after many struggles
of conscience: "You'll understand that I suffer to be so
far from our soldiers and the border: but my duty is, clearly,
to stay here to help to keep the population calm."
March 1915 Insurrection of Arab
tribes in south of Tripolitaine.
Apr-May 1915 Father told Captain
Duclos, new commander of Saharan Company of Tidikelt stationed
at In Salah, about the situation in the Hoggar and the movements
of Moroccan or Senussi raiders.
Apr 1916 Taken over by Libyan
raiders, French fort at Djanet fell. "After this success
the Senussi have the way clear to come here". Captain de
la Roche had a 16m-long fort built at Tamanrasset, to protect
the Tuareg population in the case of attack. Father Charles
went there in June.
28 Nov 1916 Finished copy of Tuareg
1 Dec 1916 Assassinated
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