French monk, nuns, beatified at Vatican
VATICAN CITY, Nov 13 (AFP) - Thousands of pilgrims packed St. Peter's basilica at the Vatican on Sunday for the beatification of French monk Charles de Foucauld , and two Italian nuns.
In line with the trend set for his pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI delegated the beatification ceremony to Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, prefect for the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
The other two people beatified were Maria Pia Mastena, who died in 1916 — the same year de Foucauld was killed by bandits in Algeria — and Maria Crocifissa Curcio, who died in 1957. Both nuns founded religious orders.
Foucauld, a soldier, explorer and lover of the desert culture of the Tuaregs, spent much of his life in the Sahara, where he founded a missionary order, the Little Brothers of Jesus.
The French government was represented by justice minister Pascal Clément, and a number of Algerian Touregs also attended the ceremony.
The beatification of Foucauld was originally set for May 15, but was postponed due to the ill health of Pope John Paul II, who unlike his successor, normally presided over beatification ceremonies himself.
In 2001, Pope John Paul praised him for his “generosity and boldness, his message and his example.”
The practice of beatification requires a miracle, and Vatican theologians attribute to Foucauld the cure of a cancer sufferer in 1984.
Maria Pia Mastena founded the Institute of Sisters of the Holy Countenance and Maria Crocifissa Curcio the Missionary Sisters of St Therese of the Child Jesus.
Subject: French news