DESERT CALLING by Anne Fremantle
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Few Americans, even in Catholic circles, are familiar with the subject of this biography, who is described by the author as ""one of the most remarkable men of his age, the most generally revered character in France, after Joan of Arc."" Born in 1858, Charles Eugene, Vicomte de Foucald, grew up to be soldier, explorer, priest and apostle of the Sahara Desert, where he was murdered in 1916 by members of the tribe among whom he had labored for fifteen years. Since his death de Foucald's life and work have become more widely known in his native land, and he is now the symbol of a recrudescent French Catholicism and his canonization as a saint is under consideration....Anne Fremantle, author of James and John has given us an intensely interesting biography, marshalling the detailed information she had at hand in a most effective fashion. We see a care-free nobleman giving himself to a military career, ignoring completely his faith and its moral principles. Sent to Algiers with the colonial army, he became enamored of the land and its people, and finally resigned from the army to undertake a dangerous and scientifically valuable journey of exploration through Morocco. Returning to France, de Foucald became interested in religion, and thereupon resolved to give himself completely to the service of the Church. A period spent in a Trappist monastery failed to satisfy him, and he went to the Holy Land and lived as a hermit on the grounds of a convent in Nazareth. But the spell of Africa was strong upon him, and eventually he returned to find in the Sahara Desert the order of the Little Brothers of the Sacred Heart, dedicated to a completely self-abnegating service to the natives. While there he was closely associated with the French colonial army, and his knowledge of the native tribes and their languages proved to be very valuable to the military authorities. Readers will have many questions about this complicated personality and his contradictory traits of character. But readers of all faiths will find this most interesting reading.

Pub Date: Oct. 17th, 1949
Publisher: Holt