Jesus Caritas Lay Fraternity of Providence
In Rome on November 13, 2005, the Catholic Church beatified a French viscount, Charles de Foucauld (1858-1916) whose extraordinary life of loving Christian example has given rise to a dozen new religious communities worldwide, and to hundreds of fraternities of laymen inspired by his life and writings.
Successively a French army officer, an explorer, Trappist, priest, hermit, ethnographer of the Tuareg people, writer and martyr, he baptized only two converts in his entire career, and failed to attract a single follower to his Rule.
Like the desert, Brother Charles' life is a fabric of such extremes and contrasts. Though he graduated Saint-Cyr at the bottom of his class, he soon after earned the Gold Medal of the French Geographic Society for his covert walking survey of hostile Morocco. And although the affluence of Charles' younger years prompted an agnostic, bon vivant lifestyle, his restless search for God was answered by a lightning conversion. Later, his eremitical life was so severe that no candidate could live it with him. Born to aristocracy, Brother Charles sought to share Jesus' "lowest place", a "hidden" workingman's life among the poor, the alienated, the despised and forgotten. Following "in the footprints of Jesus", he did and endured everything "...for the sake of God alone".
Brother Charles of Jesus was shot and killed by a militant young Tuareg recruit on December 1, 1916, at Tamanrasset, Algeria. He is buried beneath a wooden cross at the desert oasis of El Golea.
Fr. René Voillaume
Br. Jacques Maritain
Little Brothers and Sisters of Jesus
The Little Brothers were founded in 1933 by Fr. René Voillaume in southern Oran, Alg.; the Little Sisters were founded in September 1939 at Touggourt, Alg., by Sister Madeleine of Jesus. Both congregations live in small groups, called fraternities, in ordinary dwellings among the poor labouring classes. They hold the same type of jobs as their neighbours hold. Their hope is that their presence among the people will influence an acceptance of Christianity.
Jacques Maritain was a French Catholic philosopher. Raised as a Protestant, he became an agnostic before converting to Catholicism in 1906. An author of more than 60 books, he helped to revive St. Thomas Aquinas for modern times and is a prominent drafter of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Pope Paul VI presented his "Message to Men of Thought and of Science" at the close of Vatican II to Maritain, his long-time friend and mentor. Maritain's interest and works spanned many aspects of philosophy, including aesthetics, political theory, philosophy of science, metaphysics, the nature of education, liturgy and ecclesiology.
After the death of his wife Raïssa, he became a Little Brother of Jesus in 1970.