Blessed Charles Eugène de Foucauld (15 September 1858 – 1 December 1916) was a French Catholic religious and priest living among the Tuareg in the Sahara in Algeria. He was assassinated in 1916 outside the door of the fort he built for the protection of the Tuareg, and is considered by the Catholic Church to be a martyr. His inspiration and writings led to the founding of the Little Brothers of Jesus among other religious congregations. He was beatified on 13 November 2005 by Pope Benedict XVI.
Charles de Foucauld was an officer of the French Army in North Africa where he first developed his strong feelings about the desert and solitude. On his subsequent return to France and towards the end of October 1886, at the age of 28, he went through a conversion experience at the Church of Saint Augustin in Paris.
The life of Charles de Foucauld was like the biblical seed which had to die before it sprouted into a healthy plant. Within twenty years after his death, there appeared three congregations which derived their inspiration, purpose, and Rules from Charles de Foucauld. These Little Brothers of Jesus, Little Sisters of the Sacred Heart, and Little Sisters of Jesus live in small groups all over the world, preaching by the lives they lead. Two other Orders, founded later, trace their heritage to Little Brother Charles of Jesus. Each of these groups bases its apostolate on the ideas of the Orders which the martyr of the desert had planned, but did not live to see. The 1936 French film The Call of Silence portrayed Charles de Foucauld’s life.
In 1950, the Algerian government honoured Charles de Foucauld by portraying his image on a stamp; the French government did likewise in 1959.