The Incredible Miracle attributed to Charles de Foucauld

By Hugues Lefèvre
On Tuesday, May 26, Pope Francis authorized the publication of eight decrees prepared by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Among the recognized miracles, one was attributed to Blessed Charles de Foucauld. This is the account of an officially "miraculous" event that occurred in Saumur in November 2016. On Wednesday, November 30, 2016, a team of workers from the Asselin company, specializing in the restoration of heritage and historical monuments, worked on the framework of the chapel of the Saint-Louis school in Saumur. Among the wood specialists present that day, Charles, 21, a young carpenter, moved between the vault of the building and the frame. At around 4:30 p.m, an accident of rare violence occurred. In a hasty gesture, the young man Charles ventured beyond the secure path prepared for the workers and walked on the vault of the chapel. Under his weight the vault suddenly collapsed. Charles drops fifty feet and falls down onto a church pew. A wooden post punctures his abdomen, just below his heart. On the construction site, all fear for the worst.
"Such an accident has never happened,"
says François Asselin, the manager of the company. While thought to be dead, the unheard of happened. The young man stood up with the piece of wood still piercing him right through. Even more extraordinarily, he walked about fifty yards, met high school staff and warned them that a problem has just occurred. Stunned by this vision, they were dismayed and called for help which arrived by helicopter. But it was impossible to get Charles aboard the craft because of the wood passing through his body. They must, therefore, leave for Angers by ambulance. The journey took another forty-five minutes during which anything could have happened.
"As far as I’m concerned, he can't come through this”.
"I was notified about one and a half hours after the accident, but I didn’t know anything about his condition. I just heard the facts, about this frightening fall. As far as I’m concerned, he can't survive,
explains François Asselin. The manager of the 130 employees of his Company was in Paris at the time. Faced with the terrible anguish that assailed him, the head of the company had only one reaction: we must pray. With his wife, he called the Fraternity of Mary, Immaculate Queen, to which he and his wife were very close, as well as his parish of Saumur. The parish created in 2012, bears the name of Charles de Foucauld.
“The coincidence is amazing. When François Asselin contacted me to tell me about the accident, in the parish we were preparing for a feast in celebration of Charles de Foucauld ”,
said the parish priest, Father Vincent Artarit. Indeed, the next day, Thursday, December 1, marked the hundreth anniversary of his death. For a year, the parishioners had been praying that Charles de Foucauld who was beatified in 2005 could be canonized. It was precisely when the novena in preparation for the parish feast ended, that the accident occured. In the morning, Charles’ mother announced the news. The prayer networks were active and already hundreds of people were praying to Blessed Charles de Foucauld to intercede for the health of young Charles. The postulator of the cause, Father Ardura, in charge of the canonical procedure insisted on how important it was to intercede to God through Br Charles for his immediate intervention. The hours passed. François Asselin called the hospital, but he got no news.
"They are short of staff these nights"
he recalls, his voice filled with emotion. In the morning, Charles’ mother finally called him. Victory! The operation to remove the piece of wood was successful. Her son was alive. No vital organ appeared to be affected.
“It was extraordinary. I was able to go see him three days later and chat with him as I speak to you "
, his manager said, still surprised.
"You don't have to ask for forgiveness… you're alive!”
In this hospital room, another event would affect the head of the company.
"When I got in front of him, he started by begging me for forgiveness. Sorry for making a hasty gesture that caused so much trouble.”.
I was amazed.
"No, you don't have to ask for forgiveness… you're alive!"
I answered him. As the discussion continued with Charles and his mother, François Asselin, upset by the events, shared about the great spiritual mobilization that had occurred. This was how he came to tell them about Charles de Foucauld, whom they did not know existed. He also showed them a the comic strip on Blessed Charles. Charles who is not a Christian accepts that his case can be studied by the Church. Two months later, Charles is already back at work. There is no after-effect from the accident. For many Christians who have followed the case, there is no doubt: it is a miracle, a wink from God in this jubilee year. It was only after the euphoria passed that François Asselin, of a pragmatic nature, decided to go into the matter more deeply. The facts were too too obvious for him to ignore the story.
“I knew that maybe we were embarking on a long and arduous journey. But if this event had a real link with Charles de Foucauld, I did not feel the right not to embark on it. This business did not belong to us, it was beyond us all”.
Charles, who is not a Christian, does not object to the proposal that his case be studied by the Church.
“Recognition of the miracle was only possible because he accepted from the start that he could be talked about and that people had access to his medical records. He does not speak of a miracle but feels that he has been preserved by something that is beyond him”,
explains Father Vincent Artarit. The parish priest of the Saumur-centre also sees it as a sign:
"when you know the life of Charles de Foucauld, it's astonishing to see that the miracle attributed to him concerns someone who has no Christian faith… This echoes his missionary desire to go and to evangelize those who are not in the Church”.
"For us, he is already holy."
With Charles’ agreement, the process gets under way. The Bishop of Tamanrasset, where Charles de Foucauld died, has been contacted. He then transmitted the information to the postulator of the cause. The Bishop of Angers, Mgr Delmas, then opened a diocesan investigation before the file left for Rome in 2019. And it is therefore this Tuesday, May 26 that Pope Francis authorized the publication of eight decrees from the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints. Among the recognized miracles, there is this one attributed to Blessed Charles de Foucauld.
"Charles is very happy for Christians that the miracle is recognized",
confides the priest. The members of the Asselin company, are also happy
“I couldn't tell you how many of the 130 employees believe in God, but this news is arousing a lot of enthusiasm. For the canonization, we will certainly organize something to be present in Saint Peter’s Square. Without going too far, I think that many will respond to this invitation,"
rejoices François Asselin. It is not yet known when the canonization of Blessed Charles de Foucauld can take place. The health crisis still makes the prospects of large gatherings in Saint Peter’s Square unimaginable. How much longer will we have to wait?
“For us, he is already holy,”
smiles Father Artarit, who confirms that the extraordinary influence of the Blessed Charles should bring together tens of thousands of people from all over the world.
“It would be a shame to celebrate it on the quiet…"
Hugues Lefèvres 29/05/2020 .