You, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. Isaiah 64:8
Charles de Foucauld (1916)
In 1901, Charles, who was from Strasbourg, decided to set up a refuge in Algeria – a country he knew from serving there in the French army – where many people, including slaves, travellers, soldiers, the poor and sick, came to him. He worked there unassisted for some time before going to reach the Tuareg people, a proud and fierce tribe of the Ahaggar Mountains (also known as the Hoggar). He knew that a friend of his had been assassinated by them and he indicated in a letter that he expected the same might happen to him. Nevertheless, he set up a base at Tamanrasset, an isolated place up in the mountains. He received and helped many visitors, assisted only by Paul, a former slave whom Charles had helped to free.
In December 1916 a group of men from the Sanusiya Islamic Sufi order went to Tamanrasset. One evening, the Sanusiya attacked Charles in his home, took him outside and tied him up. A young boy guarded Charles whilst the men raided the house. Paul witnessed events that followed; he told how some movement that Charles made caused the boy guard to panic and shoot Charles in the head.
A Muslim friend who heard about his death wrote, “Charles … has died not only for all of you, he has died for us, too. May God have mercy on him, and may we meet him in paradise.” Some time afterwards the work that Charles had established was re-started by others.
My Father, I abandon myself to you. Do with me as you will. Whatever you may do with me I thank you. I am prepared for anything. I accept everything, provided your will is fulfilled in me and in all creatures. I ask for nothing more, my God. I place my soul in your hands. I give it to you, my God, with all the love of my heart, because I love you. And for me it is a necessity of love, this gift of myself, this placing of myself in your hands without reserve in boundless confidence, because you are my Father.
Charles de Foucauld (martyred 1916)