Blessed Charles de Foucauld and six other candidates for sainthood finally will be canonized May 15, 2022, the Vatican announced Nov. 9.
The final stage in the sainthood process—a gathering of cardinals in Rome to affirm that Church law had been followed in preparing for the candidates’ declaration of sainthood and a formal request “in the name of Holy Mother Church” that Pope Francis set a date for the canonizations—took place in early May. But no date for the ceremony was set because of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
The previous time Pope Francis celebrated a public Mass for the canonization of saints was Oct. 13, 2019, when he canonized St. John Henry Newman and four others. However, in April, he used what the Vatican calls the “equipollent” or equivalent canonization to declare the sainthood of Blessed Margaret of Città di Castello, an Italian Dominican laywoman. He used the same formula in July 2019 to recognize St. Bartolomeu Fernandes dos Mártires, a 16th-century Portuguese Dominican and archbishop.
Along with Blessed de Foucauld, the spring ceremony will see the canonization of the Indian martyr Devasahayam Pillai and the five founders of religious orders.
Born in Strasbourg, France, in 1858, Blessed de Foucauld strayed from the faith during his adolescence, but during a trip to Morocco, he saw how devoted Muslims were to their faith, which inspired him to return to the Church.
He joined the Trappists, living in monasteries in France and in Syria, before seeking an even more austere life as a hermit. After his ordination to the priesthood in 1901, he lived among the poor and finally settled in Tamanrasset, Algeria. In 1916, he was killed by a band of marauders. His writings inspired the foundation, after his death, of the Little Brothers of Jesus and the Little Sisters of Jesus.
The martyr of India who will be declared a saint is Blessed Pillai, an 18th-century Catholic layman who was killed for refusing to refute his faith despite being brutally tortured.
Born to an upper-caste Hindu family in 1712 and given the name Neelakanda, Blessed Pillai became a trusted soldier of the Hindu king but later incurred his wrath for embracing Christianity. Baptized in May 1745, he was given the name Devasahayam, a Tamil rendering of the biblical name Lazarus.
The others approved for canonization are: